Dimensions of Inclusive Development

Growth, gender, poverty and the environment can no longer be treated as loosely connected components of development. Recognizing their interdependence is at the core of improved and sustained development for all. For one thing, the continuing decline of the quantity and quality of natural resources and of ecosystem functions is likely to exacerbate the likelihood of conflict over resources, particularly water. According to UNDP’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, 35 countries had entered what could be designated a ‘post-conflict phase’ by 2008. The cost of conflict has been enormous, matching or surpassing, according to some estimates, the value of ODA received in the last 20 to 30 years in the same countries. Addressing topics such as the evolving debate on environmental and social justice and improved accounting frameworks to ‘include’ environmental assets and services in considerations of growth, the enclosed articles can help us go beyond lip-service to the notion of sustainability. They focus on the ‘software’ components of development, highlighting the need for equal attention to process and to results. Suggesting that inclusive and sustainable development will need to leverage ‘social technologies’ such as political innovations, true engagement and honest evaluation, they make a clear case for a strong, representative state and the complementary roles of civil society and the private sector in defining and achieving sustained and sustainable development. They underscore the role of formal and informal mechanisms in the negotiation and reconciliation of conflicting and competing interests. In view of the high expectations placed on the next year’s Rio+20 meeting, let us remind ourselves that ‘social sustainability’ will be built on the foundations of productive and social inclusion. Too often, the focus has fallen largely on productive inclusion, with limited effort to address the structural factors that cause and sustain exclusion and marginalization, be they related to gender, political processes, property rights for the poor, and so on. Moreover, a focus on ‘sustained’ development as well as sustainable development acknowledges that, for many countries, existing development gains are fragile and easily reversed. The acute challenges faced by countries in the Horn of Africa due to persistent drought, displacement, conflict and poverty are a case in point. A socially sustainable approach, say these authors, is one in which policy efforts do not shy away from the many interdependent multiple dynamics, processes and situations that affect vulnerability and predispose the poor and the vulnerable to harm from shocks and change. Growth, equity and sustainability are mutually compatible, if efforts have enough time and resources, are responsive to underlying structural causes and encourage the vigorous participation of the poor, allowing them to define their futures. What follows illuminates the complexity of inclusiveness as a development outcome and highlights bold action in and by the South. This publication features the following articles: Overview: Where People, Poverty, Environment and Development Meet; Integrating Poverty and Environment Policies: Issues, Challenges and Opportunities; Sustainable Development as Freedom: Energy, Environment and the Arab Transformation; Challenges and Opportunities for Inclusive Green Growth; Adapting to Change: The Linked Challenges of Building Resilient Communities; Challenges for the Real Participation of Indigenous Peoples in REDD+; People Decentralised Power and Community Porstry in Cameroon; Ecodevelopment: One Vision, Two Moral Imperative, Three Pillars; Gender, Employment and Economic Crisis: Seeding Social Sustainability in SIDS; Access to Food in the Context of Sustainability and Equity: Elements from IBSA; and What Is Needed to Ensure An Equitable Deal for Africa at COP 17.