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close this bookThe HIV Epidemic and Sustainable Human Development (UNDP, 1998, 13 p.)
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1. That development as represented by the experience of the rich countries creates many problems. Foremost amongst these are an intensification of social and economic inequality in many countries in terms of class and gender, often associated with pressures towards a diminished role for the State and a reduced role for other social institutions which may in the past have ameliorated the excesses of market processes. A gradual realisation that social cohesion in many countries and regions is threatened by policies and processes which have given priority to economic growth over other desirable policy objectives. And evidence that the pursuit of private interest, often driven by greed, is far from Pareto efficient - that there are in fact losers and gainers from economic growth and that the welfare losses of the former may exceed those of the latter. Amongst the losers are future generations who will have to deal with environmental costs and other externalities which will reduce future world welfare for all. Amongst the losers almost everywhere are women who are generally denied access to opportunity and power, both economic and political, with the inevitable result that they are both exploited and denied the opportunity to play a full role in society.

2. That the pursuit of development has to concern itself both with the objectives of development and the processes for achieving these. SHD has the benefit of focusing attention on the purposes of development - that the objective of development is to increase human welfare in all of its dimensions and NOT simply those that are economic. It is, therefore, closer to philosophical concepts of what constitutes a "good life" in which it is possible for all citizens to be free of material deprivation so that they are able to actively participate in national and community processes through the exercise of their social and political rights. The denial in many countries of these rights to women is indeed perhaps the greatest challenge facing far too many countries.

3. That the achievement of SHD requires processes which are themselves inclusive and participatory if in fact the outcomes are genuinely to represent what people want rather than what elites prefer. At the centre of such processes are principles of social, political and economic inclusion which are based both on rights and responsibilities. Only if the human factor is seen as central to the processes of development will its targets represent what men and women want and thus be realisable.

4. Useful though SHD is as a concept which helps to redefine the objectives and processes of development it is less clear about operational issues. Even given agreement on objectives, and commitment to inclusive processes, it is far from clear how to create political and economic conditions in all countries in which the general welfare will prevail where this conflicts with sectional interest. Ultimately SHD may fail not in its espousal of social objectives and a concern for sustainability, but rather in the naivety of its political assumptions - a belief that powerful economic and political groups will act contrary to self- and class- interests. Central to these concerns about power relationships are those relating to men and women, which is ultimately about the willingness of men to give up power in favour of women.

It can be concluded that,

· the involvement of an educated and empowered population is critical for setting the agenda of development;

· an empowered population is central to processes for achieving the development agenda so as to ensure equitable and sustainable outcomes;

· human welfare must be the sole objective of development; and

· what is unclear is how one moves from what is - the present - to where one wants to be.