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Unsustainable development. Heap of money with globe deflates
Alleviating poverty is a driver for development.

Poverty and sustainability

Is there a sustainable way of eliminating poverty?

One of the drivers for development is alleviating poverty to maximise the quality of human life. In this step we explore two visions of poverty alleviation. Select and watch the video by either Collier or Bono.

Watch as economist Paul Collier argues that the ‘bottom billion’ people living in stagnant economies need help to catch up with wealthier economies. His vision of ‘compassion and enlightened self-interest’ is a modern version of the economic growth led by the USA after WWll with similar features including:

  • a big aid program

  • trade liberalisation

  • systems of mutual government support across national boundaries e.g. security forces, International Monetary Fund

  • voluntary compliance with international standards designed to create political and economic checks and balances and governance so that stagnant economies can overcome a cycle of short-term gain followed by a bust.

The role of resources in development and the implications for overall poverty alleviation are presented in quite a compelling narrative by Paul Collier.

An even more compelling narrative is provided in Bono’s video (yes, he of rockstar U2 fame). Bono argues that poverty can and will end – with facts, with passion and with people power.

Against this, and given the primacy of poverty alleviation within sustainable development discourse, we need to look in a little more detail at notions of growth and development. We may ask the question of whether resource extraction, growth and development are indeed the basis of a sustainable development? What are we sustaining, and is the notion of unending growth an oxymoron?

Your task

What is the key argument presented by Collier or Bono? Reflect for a moment on what you think some of the key challenges to achieving sustainable development are, and although it is early days, can you think of any solutions to these challenges?

Share your thoughts on key challenges and any potential solutions. Read your peers’ comments and like those you find most compelling.

More Resources

Redclift, M 2006 ‘Sustainable Development (1987-2005) – An Oxymoron Comes Of Age’, Horizontes Antropológicos, Porto Alegre, ano 12, n. 25, p. 65-84, jan./jun, , retrieved 20 September 2017.
This paper reviews the evolution of debate in the aftermath of the wide popularization of the term Sustainable Development in the 1987 Brundtland Report “Our Common Future’.

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This article is from the free online course:

Introduction to Sustainability and Development

Deakin University

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