The articles above address some of the main aspects of global development cooperation (and social sciences in general) that represent the ongoing focus of this blog:
1 – The need to rethink the whole approach to poverty reduction through structures, ideologies and aid flows from OECD countries to developing ones.
2 – The increasingly apparent futility of sending whites-skinned volunteers and non-technical personnel to “least-developed” and developing countries.
3 – The urgency to really think globally, and act locally (i.e. working primarily in our own communities – back in the “rich” world – at the same time finding options and ways to connect fruitfully and share experience and knowledge with the whole world).
4 – A general reflection on the excess of triviality in our contemporary hyper-technological reality, as opposed to the rediscovering of spiritual and philosophical values that could better guide us (in every field of life and work, not just dev- coop).
The third point mirrors a personal evolution. During my university years and after graduating in international relations (cooperation for development) I hoped to find a job where I could contribute with a strong attitude for holistic thought as opposed to technical specialization. Another big source of motivation was the idealistic aspiration to be useful where a socioeconomic expertise might be more needed, i.e. the developing world.
Here I just want to quickly point out why I’m currently shifting the focus, displaying a growing dedication to issues regarding my country (Italy), and specifically the area I live in (Rome, and the south-Lazio region), where relative poverty is growing, in the face of the global trend towards higher inequality and lack of power and incidence of public policy. Things like integration and education programs targeting immigrants (primarily through language learning) and the unemployed youth, or the fostering of technical expertise and start-up processes for social enterprises (in the form of cooperatives or else) are areas I’m working on and are just some of those classifiable under the human development label. Well, for reasons of both coherence and efficiency, I think that we westerners have to reshape this whole sector, giving priority to our own communities and countries.
In order to act in the local dimension we exploit the advantage of an obviously greater understanding of the cultural and socio-economic mechanisms, and we may only need to recover the “romanticism” of starting from scratch – as our grandparents did, rising from absolute poverty in the second half of the last century. On the other hand, this doesn’t mean at all that we have to give up on international cooperation, but rather free ourselves of the “white man’s burden” approach to saving the world.