Change for the Better

Change for the Better

Global Change and Economic Development You do not have access to this content

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Commonwealth Science Council
01 Aug 1991
9781848594821 (PDF)

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Change for the Better explores global political and economic change and its impact on the development process, together with ways to improve development policies – domestic and international.

This Report by a Commonwealth Group of Experts points to the danger of further increase in the existing disparities, if action is not taken urgently by the developed and developing countries as well as the world community as a whole. It points to the mutuality of interest which makes action a necessity; and to the opportunities presented by change. But it stipulates that effective action will only be possible if there is ready acceptance that the challenge of development cannot be ignored; and that current piecemeal efforts are not the answer. International understanding and cooperation will be a critical requirement.
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  • Foreword by Commonwealth Secretary-General

    We are today witnesses to momentous change in the international order. The end of the Cold War is ushering in a new era requiring adjustments to long-held perceptions and patterns of international behaviour. Change is evident in all aspects of human life—political, economic, social and environmental.

  • Executive Summary

    Our Group was established in 1989 against a widely felt concern that the circumstances facing developing countries had changed significantly in the 1980s; and that economic growth remained elusive for most of them. Global political and economic change and its impact on the development process, together with ways to improve development policies—domestic and international—are the principal themes of our report.

  • Change and Development

    When Commonwealth Ministers of Finance asked for the establishment of our Group in September 1989, they did so against a background of widely felt concern that the circumstances facing developing countries had changed significantly in the course of the 1980s; and that, in spite of adjustment and reform by many, economic growth remained elusive for most. They therefore called for an examination of how recent changes in the world economy were affecting the development process; and what implications these carried for the management of debt, adjustment and growth.

  • The Starting Point

    The developing world started the 1990s against a backdrop of change that is likely to have a significant impact on the development process. But it also started the decade with problems of economic weakness and vulnerability flowing directly from the events of the 1980s.

  • Changes in National Systems

    The nature and structure of national systems of government and economic organisation in most developing countries changed considerably during the course of the 1980s when two themes of debate tended to converge. One concerned the spreading recognition of the importance of good governance. The other concerned the circumstances conducive to effective development.

  • The International System

    There is rightly an increasing emphasis on the importance of good governance in developing countries and a growing consensus on its components. However, there is a need for equal emphasis on what might be called ‘global governance’ or ‘international governance’.

  • Human Resources

    All forms of development are—or should be—aimed at satisfying human needs and wants. But human beings are not only the recipients of development; they are of course the creators of it as well. Only people can identify economic and social opportunities and organise activities in such a way as to satisfy human needs and desires.

  • Finance

    By the end of the 1980s a perverse situation had developed in international financial flows. The developing countries were receiving significantly smaller amounts of external finance than at the beginning of the decade and were in fact making large financial transfers abroad, while the United States and some other industrial countries were absorbing large amounts of capital from abroad. For much of the developing world the reduction of financial flows occurred at a time of increasing import stringency—that is, at the very time when more finance was required.

  • Trade and Trade Policies

    International trade has long been considered the engine of economic growth. For many years it has tended to grow faster than GDP or industrial production. There have been several reasons for this buoyancy and we discuss some of them.

  • Technology Development and Transfer

    Technology, the practical application of scientific and other technical skills and knowledge to the production, processing, distribution and utilisation of goods and services, is vital to economic growth and development. Technology development makes it possible to create entirely new processes, products and services, and to improve existing ones. It raises economic and social productivities, which increase standards of living, and it improves the factoral terms of trade, which enables countries to protect or enhance their international competitiveness in particular products or services.

  • The Environment

    Much has been written on environmental issues. We address them here because of their increasing impact on and implications for the development process and relations between developed and developing countries. This has followed from the dramatic upsurge in international concern about environmental degradation during the past decade and the significant changes which have occurred in perceptions of the problem.

  • Conclusions and Recommendations

    We were commissioned almost two years ago to look at the impact of global change on development. In Chapter 1, we have tried to summarise the most important changes affecting the development process with which we were confronted when we started work; and those which have occurred since. In Chapters 2–9 we have looked at these changes from a number of different points of view.

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