The UN Sustainable Development Summit is approaching fast. Much attention will focus on a set Sustainable Development Goals to replace the soon-to-expire Millennium Development Goals. Yet beyond the goals is a deeper change in how development is understood: what it is, who must development, and who is responsible for doing it.
On what constitutes development, our volume argued that the development agenda embraced a bewildering array of goals. Over the past year, we have heard a critical response from scholars who identify a unifying trend towards notions of human freedom that underlies this apparent diversity of goals and problems. There is some convsensus on the ends of development, if not on the means to achieve it.
On who must develop, the latest set of goals includes the global south and global north. Even the recent MDGs fixated on the developing countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Once seen as a one-way relation of advanced economies helping poor people and places,
the new goals are intended to apply to all societies. Development now embraces a notice of mutual responsibility and awareness that all countries can improve.
On who is responsible for doing it, our volume highlighted the increasingly diverse array of actors involved in making development happen. Whereas foreign aid once constrained the imagination into state-to-state transfers of finance and technical assistance, today’s reality is much more vibrant. Private sector, foundations, governments, civil society, and citizens are actively shaping the world they want.
The coming weeks will see much debate regarding what to focus on, who must development, and who is responsible for financing and achieving development. Yet far from the corridors of New York, a new reality has already emerged.