is sustainable development always simply globalisation by another name?

Reading Sam’s blog  this morning.  He was writing about the tensions between doing good and doing harm in ‘development work’ and had a link to this simple story book:  There You Go.   Of course it’s a caricature (isn’t it?) but it really makes you think….

is sustainable development always simply globalisation by another name?



6 thoughts on “is sustainable development always simply globalisation by another name?

  1. Good to see that you made it to the end of the blog. That little book has been going round and round in my head ever since I chanced upon it. Our assumptions about what is good/right for people hugely shapes what we then proceed to do about it. Who determines the development agenda is of fundamental importance and I applaud VSO’s efforts to adopt participatory methods, driven by a belief that those aiming to ‘develop’ should decide what that means and how they go about it. However, I also see the reality of what this means in practical terms on the ground. Donor funding and Western/Northern agendas (both of which VSO ultimately answers to) have huge sway, to such an extent that grassroots/local need can be overlooked entirely. Don’t ask me for a solution but the imposing of ‘sustainability’ in the book really strikes a chord with me, telling of a huge hypocrisy in the way we live our lives and the way we expect others to live theirs.

  2. That’s it Sam.. Our choices are ambiguous, uncertain and their consequences even less so. No-one said it would be easy to take as much responsibilty as we rich superconsumers take every day. We just have to do our best with good will and good heart, yes, but also good knowledge. That’s why we keep up the illusion that we humans can understand and intepret the world in its eco-complexity and its Universal (really) context! What other choices are there than do our best? I think you guys are doing that pretty well in Kraje!

  3. This book certainly leaves one with an uncomfortable feeling, which is good in order to review what we do and keep being self critical, but risks that we are becoming afraid to do anything at all. I certainly am aware that ‘doing no harm’ is not as easy as it seems.
    Thanks for bringing it under attention, Sam!

  4. Yes, we can do harm by our actual actions, but also by failing to take actions. I am currently reading Isaac Asimov’s excellent collections of short robot stories (the best so far is ‘The Rest of the Robots’) and fundamental to these are the three laws which all robots must obey. The first of these has relevance in this instance:
    “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.”
    [For more on the laws of robotics visit Wikipedia:

    • My doctor has a sign on the wall beside the reception desk:

      ROBOT SHORTAGE Unfortunately, due to a shortage of suitably qualified robots, this practice has regrettably had to employ human beings as staff. Occasionally they may react emotionally when subject to abuse or undue pressure. Danny M

      • Brilliant, don’t you just love it when a routine dull message like that is conveyed with humour. You could even add that these staff might also respond favourably to jokes, smiles and kind gestures, which is a benefit versus their robotic counterparts.

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