In September 2000, world Leaders gathered at United Nations Headquarters in New York for the Millennium Summit. At this summit, they adopted the United Nations Millennium Declaration, which included 8 time-bound targets called the Millennium Development Goals (or MDGs). These MDGs were aimed at developing a new global partnership to reduce poverty by the year 2015. Unfortunately, disability issues were completely absent from the MDGs. Subsequently, on 13 December 2006, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted, and became the first human rights treaty of the 21st century. This seminar will enable you to explore these policy developments and focus on enhancing your understanding of disability-inclusive development.
Throughout the semester each seminar participant will submit at least ten (10) blog posts. Blog posts should address your thoughts and reflections on any issue being discussed that week. Each blog post should be around 400 words, and will be organized under one of ten pre-determined categories: 1. Grand Challenges; 2. Development Theory; 3. SDGs and HLPF; 4. Efficacy of Global Frameworks; 5. ICTs and Sustainable Development; 6. Digital Divide(s); 7. Multistakeholder Global Governance; 8. Smart Cities and Employment; 9. Inclusive Education; and, 10. Intersectionality in Sustainable Development.
The 13th Internet Governance Forum, an annual event for global leaders in internet governance to discuss policies and exchange information about the internet and new technology, was held in Paris, France on November 12-14th. Some of the major themes discussed were Cybersecurity, Trust & Privacy, Development, Innovation & Economic Issues, Digital Inclusion & Accessibility, Emerging Technologies, Evolution of Internet Governance, Human Rights, Gender & Youth, Media & Content, and Technical & Operational Topics. Because of my interest in working with youth, I was most interested in the sessions around youth and the internet. Continue reading
Global Strategic Frameworks like the Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals are important pieces in the puzzle of development because they are good for marketing ideas internationally and setting a standard for where the world should head, but it is essential that we examine their limitations for inclusive development. Continue reading
Internet Governance is defined as “the development of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and activities that shape the evolution and use of the Internet” (UNESCO). As the internet has grown and become such an integral part of the human experience globally, it is no surprise that it requires governance. Continue reading
ICTs, or Information and Communications Technologies, are technologies that offer access to information through communication. The term refers to both the physical hardware and the cyber infrastructure that people use to send and receive information and communicate with. Because these are so essential to everyday life now in the 21st century, reports such as “The Missing Link” by the International Telecommunications Union and “Falling Through the Net” by the National Telecommunications and Information Agency highlight the disparities in access to ICTs. Continue reading
I have studied many different development theories over my time as a developmental studies SIS major at American University. There has been on that has stood out to me from the beginning as the one that will do the most good for the most people. Development as Freedom by Amarta Sen is the most human based yet practical development theory I have read throughout college. So many other theories worry about the global dynamics and international politics whereas Development as Freedoms sole focus is how to provide the individual no matter where in the world with the freedom and the options to chose their own path. Sen makes no assumptions about the person or tries to make them conform to a certain path or way of development. Whatever a person can chose the path they want to take without their basic rights being taken away or hinder that is a truly developed society. I feel as if many development actors do not focus on this theory today. They are much more concerned about the immediate results and impact that, that sometimes the humanity of the exchange gets lost in it all.
The UN and UN frameworks or conventions are a great way at guiding stakeholders in developmental goals. There is limited opportunities to get stakeholders other than government involved. This is something that needs to be improved. Although the governments are the ones who provide the monetary assistance, the NGO’s are generally the movers and shakers who provide the on ground technical support. More importantly they are the ones who interact with the communities at a much more personal level. They are the people who would be able to most effectively and accurately advocate for populations who cannot advocate for themselves. That is why grassroots NGOS and other stakeholders such as the communities themselves need to be given many more opportunities to actively participate in major discussions on how their communities are going to be developed.
The idea of global grand challenges and the vast number of them that exist in todays world can be daunting and discouraging. A global grand challenge is a technical complex societal problem without a solution. It effects multiple communities around the world and needs global cooperation. It is important that the multiple actors involved in solving these global grand challenges are as inclusive as possible. When a large problem spans across a diverse amount of people it is difficult for one governing entity to take responsibility for solving it. I think that it is crucial for states to donate money to research and innovation for solving these big problems that face most of the world today.
Where one can fall short when thinking about these global grand challenges is the idea is one size fits all. Development as a whole is not a one size fits all type of sector. Each challenge, community and project is so unique that it is difficult to duplicate the same exact thing everywhere. Even just in the same immediate community there are people who experience the grand global challenges different from their neighbor. The way that something like the Millennial Development Goals will not be the same as for a person with a disability.
There are so many grand challenges and all of them are important that it is hard to pick one that stands above the rest. I would have to pick climate change as the most important grand global challenge. Climate change is a challenge that if not addressed, the entire world population a few generations from now will feel the effects.
The term intersectional has become quite a buzzword in the development community. It is used often by humanitarians, organizations and to describe projects. When a word becomes so prominent in a community, at times it can lose its original meaning or purpose. Intersectionality originated in academic communities as a way to explain the dual discrimination that African American women faced in the United States. That being said, intersectionality in sustainable development is very important framework to consider and can benefit many if understood correctly by development actors. Development agencies or workers can best assist communities by understanding the complexities and intersectionalities that each community or person in that community faces. Many different factors in a person’s life such as gender, race, sexual orientation, socio-economic class and more all combine to determine how that individual experiences oppression or discrimination.
I read a quote from Kimberle Crenshaw, an African American lawyer who coined the term intersectionality, that I thought important for development stakeholders to consider. She said, “If efforts began with addressing the needs and problems of those who are the most disadvantaged, and with restructuring and making the world more necessary, then others who are singularly disadvantaged would also benefit.” When development actors listen to the most marginalized communities they are able to build from the ground up and make sure that development is inclusive for the entire population. Implementing projects with intersectionality in mind also allows for sustainability and long-term effectiveness. When look at the intersectional discrimination a population faces the project is more likely to identify the root cause of the problem and solve it more efficiently. This does not waste as much donor funding by only looking into one issue and jus putting a Band-Aid on the larger problem at hand.
In my capstone project intersectionality is important to think about. The students who I am researching are some of the most marginalized in the Haitian community. Girls have a harder time accessing school in the country, but it becomes nearly impossible when they have a low socio-economic status and also have a disability. These intersectionalities need to inform the government and schools when designing programing for students such as the one described above in Haiti and all over the world.