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FOCUS December 2002 Volume 30

Questions about Development


The 1986 United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development states that "...deve-lopment is a comprehensive economic, social, cultural and political process, which aims at the constant improvement of the well-being of the entire population and of all indivi-duals on the basis of their active, free and meaningful participation in development and in the fair distribution of benefits resulting therefrom..."

As a standard, this definition deserves closer attention in today's continuing drive towards increased economic growth. Governments and international agencies are still pouring billions of dollars to accelerate economic growth by harnessing natural resources from forests to bodies of water. But there are questions that have remained unsatisfactorily answered. Are these development projects promoting sustainable use of the affected natural resources? How are people who are directly, and adversely, affected by these projects protected? Aren't the projects promoting bias in favor of the urban at the expense of the rural? Did affected people actively, freely and meaningfully parti-cipate in these projects? Are these projects the only means of attaining economic development? There are many more questions to raise.

Stories of displacement and even death of people affected by these projects in the rural areas still come out every now and then. Some stories may unfortunately remain unknown outside the affected communities.

These are the reasons why there are many questions about development.