What is Development?: Theoretical and Conceptual Approaches

The concept of development to me, appears to be a relatively broad term that can be inclusive of multiple facets depending on what a person may believe to constitute as development. For example, according to the Center for Global Development, it seems that before Amartya Sen’s multifaceted approach towards international development, levels of income use to be the main indicator when measuring levels of development. Since Amartya Sen’s work in the 1980s, it has become much more common ground to look at a variety of “quality of life” indicators to determine a more holistic view of development levels within a community (such as access to quality healthcare and education). Furthermore, another fascinating concept introduced by Amartya Sen in his book, Development as Freedom, is essentially the potential of freedoms such as economic and political freedoms, to provide individuals with greater access to the commodities that will enable an improved quality of life through greater capabilities for economic and social mobilities. The ability for social and economic mobilization appears to be one of the key influences on reaching sustainable development solutions and the foundations for capacity building when working for community improvement in the long-term.

Furthermore, one important idea that I was able to take away from the book, Why Nations Fail, is the idea of man-made political and economic institutions having an effect on the capabilities of a citizen’s economic success. It was interesting to realize that the inclusivity of a government in providing individuals with the equal opportunity for success is potentially one of the main determining factors in the degree of mobility that citizens have the right to take advantage of.

Finally, I believe that in development discourse, an important component to keep in mind is the promotion of sustainability and resilience in development solutions. Resilience according to USAID, is “the ability of people, households, communities, countries, and systems to mitigate, adapt to, and recover from shocks and stresses in a manner that reduces chronic vulnerability and facilitates inclusive growth” (Building Resilience to Recurrent Crisis 5). The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 is a good example of the discourse used for development solution resilience. For example, one aspect involved in promoting long-term effective development projects is engaging with the communities themselves as a means of capacity-building,  to ensure that communities will be more equipped to manage disasters and be able to mitigate some of their the long-term negative effects (Sendai Framework 19).