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Less Pretension, More Ambition

Less Pretension, More Ambition: Development Policy in Times of Globalization

Peter van Lieshout
Robert Went
Monique Kremer
Series: WRR Rapporten
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    Less Pretension, More Ambition
    Book Description:

    Development aid has become the subject of much discussion. Why do we give aid, and does it help? What do we know about the development paths being taken by various countries, or the possibilities of helping them to achieve their goals from outside? How relevant is development aid now that remittances and foreign direct investments have increased as a result of globalization? When does aid have more negative than positive effects? What is the significance of shifting power relations in the world? And do policies focusing on issues like climate, migration, financial stability, knowledge, trade and security not have a greater impact than aid on the development opportunities of poor countries? These questions inspired the Dutch Scientific Council for Government Policy (wrr) to examine what form development aid should take in the era of globalization. At the start of 2010, on the basis of over 500 interviews with experts and an extensive literature survey, the wrr presented its far-reaching recommendations. In October 2010, the new Dutch government decided to use the report as the basis of a thorough modernization of its development policy. This book is based on the wrr report. It builds on the many responses to the report, resulting in more elaboration on specific lines of reasoning, coverage of new themes and more comprehensive analyses, without changing the core of the original report. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1388-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
    (pp. 7-12)
    (pp. 13-24)

    In recent years development aid has become the subject of much discussion in the Western world. In the media, a passionate debate has developed which has addressed fundamental questions, but in which examples are happily quoted out of context and stereotypes are rife. Books on development aid have appeared in rapid succession and interviews with their authors have graced the front pages of the weekend supplements of the leading dailies. A fascinating genre has emerged. For most of the authors, the topic was clearly very loaded, as was evident by their cutting tone, their sweeping statements, the pamphlet-like undertones, the...

    (pp. 25-48)

    Development aid aims to contribute to a better world. There are all kinds of motives for creating a better world and each has its own emphases and leads to a specific design of development aid. The roots of these different motives can all be found in the current practice of development aid, therefore making it the result of a blend of motives. The more divergent the motives, the more difficult it is to realize a productive whole when designing development aid. The fact that the motives – which each have their own value – are so different has brought increasing...

    (pp. 49-86)

    Development aid – and this is sometimes forgotten – is about development. No matter what the motives for development aid might be, it is always important to have a clear picture of how ‘development’ should be interpreted. The answer to that question can provide a framework for assessing how ‘development’ might be stimulated and how this relates to the current organization and control model. This chapter addresses the question of what development is, and how the Western community has, in that respect, become sadder and wiser.

    What people mean by development often remains implicit. Nevertheless, there appears to be a...

    (pp. 87-104)

    Development is a complex business. While this might be a challenge to commentators and scientists, it is above all a problem for politicians and civil servants, who have the difficult job of explaining such a complicated concept to the man or woman in the street. It is equally difficult to formulate policy and evaluate whether that policy leads to positive results. The latter causes researchers all kinds of headaches. After all, it is their task to throw extra light on the question of where and when aid is useful. The question of how such a question can be answered is...

    (pp. 105-152)

    Development aid can be inspired by a number of different motives simultaneously. The existence of different and parallel motives does not, in itself, have to be a problem since social activities are usually driven by a variety of motives. The task facing the political system is to weigh up all these motives and combine them into a manageable structure for implementation. This is, however, tricky if the different motives give cause to engage in practices which continually diverge. In addition, as chapters 3 and 4 showed, helping with development is a tremendously complex job. It is therefore no surprise that...

    (pp. 153-194)

    The history of sixty years of development aid can be described as a struggle during which citizens, governments and multilateral organizations searched, with only partial success, for ways of getting to grips with an extremely complex phenomenon. The question is what conclusions can be drawn from this with a view to future policy. A gloomy assessment about what has been achieved may lead to the conclusion that continuing development aid is not desirable or sensible, while the fact that development is a difficult task can quickly become a licence for continuing along the same, chosen path. The material presented in...

    (pp. 195-232)

    What is required to make a serious contribution to development? As we have seen, there is no Big Answer to that question. Societies cannot be ‘fixed’. Development aid should aim to increase self-sufficiency, and be tailored to the specific situation and problems in the country concerned. Anyone who takes this as a serious starting point will not act on the basis of yet another grand, universal theory of development, but on a heterogeneous, better substantiated and targeted collection of local policy practices.

    Asking how to shape development is to ask not only what, but also how. The debate on ‘what’...

    (pp. 233-258)

    Development aid can take the form of direct aid from one country to another. However, aid in this form will gradually decrease in importance in the years to come. As development questions become increasingly interwoven with broader global and regional issues, the focal point of development activities will also have to shift in the same direction. That shift does not have to be made too hastily. For a number of developing countries, bilateral aid is still of vital importance and can be useful under certain conditions. However, that applies to a decreasing number of countries. If the pace of development...

    (pp. 259-274)

    Development aid is the subject of heavy debate. In many ways the world has improved immensely over the past sixty years. However, the question is increasingly being raised as to what contribution aid has made to this development. Progress has primarily become apparent over the last few decades. In the past twenty-five years, life expectancy in all developing countries taken together has risen by ten years, and the percentage of children attending school has doubled. Poverty around the globe has also halved, to a quarter of the world’s population. This success, however, has primarily been achieved in Asia, with China...

    (pp. 275-308)