Perspectives on Global Development 2021

From Protest to Progress?

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Since its first edition in 2010, the OECD Development Centre's Perspectives on Global Development report has tracked development trends and policy priorities in developing countries. This new report examines the phenomenon of discontent. Between the global financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, discontent surged around the world. It was especially evident in middle-income countries and was often most acute amongst the middle classes that have emerged in developing countries over recent decades. The report explores the economic, political and sociological drivers of discontent and argues that building back better from the COVID-19 pandemic in developing countries will require approaches that simultaneously improve citizens' well-being, promote productive transformation and strengthen social cohesion. The report concludes by examining the international dimension of discontent and demonstrates how weaknesses and imbalances in the present multilateral system are eroding humankind's capacity for collective action in the face of global threats, notably the climate crisis. The rise in discontent has exposed failings in prevailing economic, social and political models at all levels: addressing discontent means fixing these systems, and doing so in an inclusive and sustainable manner.


Executive summary

Discontent has surged around the world since the global financial crisis of 2008-09. Although the COVID‑19 pandemic cleared the streets temporarily, it also exposed and exacerbated the grievances and social fractures that were driving this unrest – factors that countries will need to address as they emerge from the pandemic and confront the worsening climate crisis. This edition of Perspectives on Global Development examines the nature and causes of discontent in developing countries and identifies possible responses to the phenomenon at local, national and international levels. These responses should aim not only to improve livelihoods and strengthen social cohesion but also to empower states and societies to address collectively the profound risks and uncertainties of the 21st century.


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