Monday, February 15, 2010

Pride, Denial and Development

Confronting the pride and the denial that are besetting the world's 'greatest superpower': redefining development.

The problem with being a super power is you tend to think highly of yourself. You are, after all, both super and power. The pride that comes with thinking of oneself as highly developed, or civilized, or at least a great Empire is undoubtably one of the major reasons why it has taken the United States - and other Western countries - so long to fully admit to and appropriately deal with dangers such as climate change and with the challenges of sustainable development and to normalise green growth.

Take the area where the United States should excel: renewable energy. The US has the old auto factories that easily become wind turbine factories, it has the massive of unemployed, many of who are blue collar workers, it has a social movement (Green for All) that is supporting the transition, it has excellent examples of poverty-energy-growth- win-win-win sustainable solutions, it has global reach, industrial prowress, excellent access to markets, generally favorable trade policies, etc. You know the drill. Who is excelling? China. They are becoming the leaders in green energy - as you probably knew.

There are a lot of reasons why. But pride, prejudice, and a dangerous degree of denial are right up there. Not that the United States is new to any of those characteristics - particularly the denial aspect. Which is dangerous for any market entity - it is essential that the US keep its head above water, something its having an increasingly difficult thing doing.

There needs, now, a reconceptualisation of development in order to enable sustainable development. With China owning much of the US, and with it clearly racing ahead on what is surely some of the most important emerging markets for this century, we can not longer say that even though China is poor, it is clearly undeveloped. And given the dangers of pride and prejudice, I would be loath to call any country that includes them as 'developed'. Instead, all countries should be seen as developing. That would enable a greater degree of humility - and the chance for learning. And such humility is essential for sustainable development.

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for all the great posts from last year! I look forward to reading your blog, because they are always full of information that I can put to use. Thank you again, and God bless you in 2010.

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