Development experts’ heads are stuck in the manufacturing sands

By Jean Daudelin

Try to forget industrialization: it’s essentially over and it won’t happen again. The challenge is to grow rich and not too unequal with service economies.

When you have time, check this podcast from Brookings,[1] which features one of their fellows, John Page, a former Chief Economist for Africa at the World Bank. Its hook is that about 85 million of China’s “bottom-end” manufacturing jobs will have migrated away by 2030 and that Africa’s challenge is to capture as many of those jobs as possible. The point is to plug a book by Brookings, UNU-WIDER and the African Development Bank called “Learning to Compete in Industry.”

Now, in 2030, there will be 1.6 bn people in Africa, about half of whom will be older than 15 years old. Among the latter, assuming participation rates similar to todays (70-80%), the region’s labour force will be about 600 million strong. This means that while 85 million jobs look like a lot, if Africa were to capture ALL OF THOSE JOBS–an extremely unlikely outcome–that would still represent only 13% of the region’s labour force. Adding those jobs to the current paltry levels of industrial employment, in other words, would just not make African countries “successful industrializers.” Most likely, in fact, these economies will morph—some already have—from mining and agricultural primary goods producers to service economies, without the historically “standard” industrial episode in the middle.

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Time to Process the New UN Global Goals

By Fraser Reilly-King

This week world leaders will meet in New York to adopt Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The agenda includes a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that succeed the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expire this year. Most people might think that this “plan of action for people, planet and prosperity” is the major outcome of the past few years. It is. But I would argue that the process is also a major outcome in and of itself. Why?

Good process matters. It can build ownership, garner input and lived experience, including from those most affected, and build on policy and practice. The United Nations (UN) is conscious of this. In 2012 it initiated a series of more than one hundred national and thematic consultations on the post-2015 agenda. These reached an estimated million people, creating space for interested stakeholders to contribute ideas and proposals. The My World Survey solicited responses from 7.7 million people on a range of topics. Expert groups were convened on the broad agenda, on financing, and on data, among other things. And the inter-governmental negotiations on both the goals and final agenda opened up new space to a broader range of civil society organizations (CSOs) and other stakeholders.

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Bringing Universal Global Goals to Life in Canada

By Shannon Kindornay

The adoption of Transforming our world, the outcome document for the UN High-Level Summit this week represents a momentous occasion. In addition to expanding the agenda from the Millennium Development Goals, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have also been billed as representing a paradigm shift in at least one important way (though there are others as this series will show). These global goals will be universal in nature, applying to all countries, not just developing ones.

But how likely are we to see a true paradigm shift – one that recognizes the shared sustainable development challenges all countries and people face? What does this look like in practice? And what does it really mean for Canada?

Universal means everywhere for everyone. As I argue in a recent paper, the global goals articulate an agenda for all people, regardless of their place of origin. As a universal agenda, the global goals should spur action at the national level across countries on domestic policy issues as well as how countries engage internationally. In Canada, the universal agenda has at least three key implications.

First, it means we need action on realising sustainable development here at home – addressing the challenges we face including the ongoing marginalization and inequalities faced by indigenous peoples, women, and other groups in Canadian society and improving our environmental track record – for starters.

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Introducing Sustainable Development Goals and Canada Unpacked

By Shannon Kindornay and Fraser Reilly-King

We finally made it. After three years of inter-governmental negotiations, consultations with millions of people worldwide, and thousands of inputs from experts, United Nations’ (UN) member states will adopt Transforming our Lives at this weekend’s UN Summit to adopt the Post-2015 development agenda.

In doing so, states will agree to a new agenda for global sustainable development, replacing the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that expire at the end of this year. Over the next 15 years, the international community will be guided by 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), integrating the three broad pillars of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental well-being.

So what are these global goals all about? And why should Canada and Canadians pay attention to them?

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