Give people a real say on development

From Global development | The Guardian Fri Feb 22 2013, 07:00:01

Civil society's voice is being drowned out by northern-led, top-down policymakers. When will Cameron and co listen?

For 13 years international development policy has rested on a set of goals written in "relative casualness". So casual was the manner of the small team working out of a basement office of the UN in New York that they initially "forgot" to include an environment goal - what became millennium development goal (MDG) seven on environmental sustainability.

Those targeted by the MDGs, and from 2015 by their successor when the MDGs expire, do not forget the importance of the environment. More than 100 million people could die by 2030 from the impact of climate change without an immediate shift in our consumption and production. According to a report commissioned by 20 governments, 90% of those deaths would be in developing countries.

This is just one example of how the poorest people are most affected by international development concerns. But their voice continues to be largely absent from the northern-led, top-down way of creating policy and practice. This process operates at two levels: one is the dominance of northern governments in international institutions and official decision-making processes; the other, the continuing exclusion of civil society organisations (CSOs) and social movements from government processes.

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