From Dani Rodrik’s blog
Whatever became of the anti-globalization movement? I learn from Robin Broad and John Cavanagh’s latest book, Development Redefined, that it is alive and well and now called the alter-globalization movement (for “alternatives to globalization”).
John Cavanagh directs the Institute for Policy Studies and has long been a thorn in the side of globalization’s cheerleaders…
As one might expect, the book takes swipes at the usual suspects: the Washington Consensus, the IFIs, the MNCs, Tom Friedman, and Jeff Sachs. Against the growth-focused and globalization-centered views of these institutions and commentators, Robin and John argue for a localized, community-based, self-sufficient model of development. What many others would celebrate as real development (for example the spread of commercial farming for export in the Philippines) they see as the destruction of local communities. They write: “We stand at a moment marking the end of what may well be the most destructive development era of modern history.”
Can we be talking about the same era during which, according to World Bank calculations, the number of people in extreme poverty fell (in absolute terms!) by 400 million people? Broad and Cavanagh don’t pay much attention to such figures because they seem to have a somewhat romantic view of the lives of rural poor, who apparently have a relatively decent quality of life until market forces in the form of international trade and MNCs encroach upon them.
Banglapraxis quotes Bretten Woods Project on the current food crisis and the skewed diagnosis by Development institutions:
The IFIs trace 15 per cent of the increase to higher energy and fertilizer costs linked to skyrocketing oil prices, and another 15 – 30 per cent to the impact of biofuels. They have been silent on the role of speculative financial capital, which Peter Rosset, researcher at the Centro de Estudios para el Cambio en el Campo Mexicano, calls “one of the most important” short-term causes. Other short-term factors include record-low food stocks and severe weather events such as last year’s Australian drought…
There is also enormous skepticism about the benefits of the current agribusiness model. The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), a three-year high-level exercise, came under “enormous pressure” according to one high-level insider to conform with the findings of the Bank’s World Development Report on agriculture (see Update 58). In contrast to the WDR, the IAASTD emphasises food security, environmental sustainability, and traditional knowledge. It criticises trade liberalisation for undermining the agricultural sector and stresses the need to “preserve national policy flexibility”.
The Development Newswire
Xinhua reports that Bangladesh senior official Mirza Azizul Islam lambasted the world’s primary financial lenders for failing to act against the international food crisis. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are not really taking steps to avert the global food problem, according to Bangladesh finance adviser Mirza Azizul Islam. “Food costs are on the rise and Bangladesh and many other countries are in trouble. Our government is having a hard time coping with the burden of ever-increasing subsidies on food as the prices are climbing in the international market,” remarked Islam. “The World Bank and IMF are expressing concern over the crisis, but they are not doing anything to ease the problem,” he added. In addition to the food situation, the Bangladeshi official also urged the agencies to assist developing countries in coming up with solutions to the problems posed by climate change. Source: Bangladesh slams donors for inaction over food crisis (Xinhua)
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An evaluation of the World Bank’s training for capacity building reveals serious flaws in design and implementation that undermine country ownership; the same criticism is being levelled at the IMF over its plans to charge for technical assistance.
The World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) published the report on the Banks’ project-based and central training programmes that are supposed to build capacity for development in February. The Bank has provided around $720 million annually for training programmes in the last ten years, though training is only a portion of the Bank’s overall technical assistance (TA) work. Continue reading