Sustainable development demands a broader vision, says new OECD Development Centre report

Windmills SDGs

(Unsplash, 2018)

This article is brought to you in association with OECD.


Economic growth does not necessarily go coupled with well-being. The first industrialised countries increased their populations’ well-being with rates of economic growth lower than those experienced by emerging economies: many of the latter are struggling to convert faster Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth into substantive and lasting well-being improvements for their citizens. Therefore, while economic growth is a crucial tool for development strategies, these strategies must more deliberately target economic, social and environmental dimensions, according to the OECD Development Centre’s Perspectives on Global Development 2019   launched today at the 6th OECD World Forum on Statistics, Knowledge and Policy in Incheon, Korea.The report concludes that development strategies must do more to embrace the multidimensionality of development, acknowledging the fact that growth does not automatically yield improvements in well-being.

The time is ripe for change. Since the 1990s, large developing countries have continuously re-drawn the map of global economic relations in terms of trade, finance and migration, challenging longstanding notions of development. This major transformation has been buoyed by large emerging economies such as China, India, Indonesia, Russia and Brazil, growing faster than the OECD average and creating a ripple effect on other developing countries. Over the 2011-16 period, China and India’s contribution to global growth reached 29% and 11% respectively.

Nowadays, developing economies have to find innovative solutions in the face of challenges that did not exist for previously industrialising countries. For example, despite efforts to focus on social inclusiveness and environmental sustainability, few national development plans today are responding to the emergence of new global rules, increasing interdependence among countries, unprecedented population booms, the high mobility of people or fast technological change.

Novel ways of promoting development are emerging, however, outside of the toolbox set out in the aftermath of the Second World War. “A crucial way to continue innovating on strategies, such as enhancing South-South co-operation, linking migration and development, or extending social protection to poor and hard to reach populations, is by being in the same room and sharing policy experience”, said Mario Pezzini, Director of the OECD Development Centre and Special Advisor to the OECD Secretary-General on Development. “Indeed, once the necessary resources and political will for implementation are available, development strategies have historically proven to be most effective when they are multisectoral, participatory, location-specific and embedded in a multilateral framework. In other words, the multidimensional process of development requires a new vision for global co-operation”, he added.

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