The lives of the poor matter, but less

  • Opinion Written by Jomo Kwame Sundaram (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
  • Inter Press service

Collecting sufficient national data to properly monitor progress in sustainable development Objectives Expensive. The costs of data collection, usually borne by the countries themselves, have been estimated to be more than three times the total official development assistance (ODA).

Remember, aid decreased after the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, and again in the wake of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. Recently, very much More official development assistance has been allocated “To support” private investment from donor countries.

With the increasing demands of data, more pressure to measure has led to either exaggeration or underestimation of both problems and advances, sometimes without dishonorable intent. The “errors” can easily be interpreted away from statistics from poor countries and are known to be unreliable.

Political, bureaucratic, and financing considerations limit the desire to admit that reported data is suspicious for fear that this will reflect poorly on officials. Once basic statistics are established, similar considerations dictate subsequent “consistency” or “conformity” in reporting.

And when problems have to be recognized, the result may be “double talk”. Organizations may then begin reporting some statistics to the public, with other data being used, usually in secret, for “internal” operational purposes.

Money money money
Economists generally prefer and even demand the use of money metrics. Often the rationale is the lack of another meaningful action available. Many believe that showing apparent costs and benefits is likely to lead to an increase in needed financing. The use of exchange rates or purchasing power parity (PPP) has been the subject of much debate. Some are calling for more favorable measures such as standard McDonald’s hamburger prices in different countries.

Money measures indicate that the estimated economic losses are due to, for example, smoking or non-communicable diseases (Non-communicable diseasesObesity, including obesity, tends to be much greater in richer countries, due to higher lost or lost income plus costs incurred.

Development discourse changes
The United Nations’ four decades of development after 1960 sought to accelerate economic progress and improve social welfare. Not surprisingly, for decades, there have been various debates in the development discourse on measuring progress.

The emergence of neoliberal economic thought, claiming free markets, fundamentally strengthened and expanded private property rights. The rejection of Keynesian economics and development, both of which are linked to state intervention, the influence of neoliberalism reached its zenith at the turn of the century.

So calledWashington ConsensusThe US federal institutions from the 1980s also included the Bretton Woods Institutions, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank, both of which were based in the US capital.

In 2000, the United Nations Secretariat drafted the Millennium Declaration. This, in turn, became the basis for the Millennium Development Goals, which prioritized cutting the number of poor in half. After all, who would object to poverty reduction. The poor were defined by reference to the poverty line, which the bank has set somewhat arbitrarily.

Poverty fetish
This is assuming that money income is a global measure of well-being Poverty Scale The appeal was made on various grounds. Most of the poorest developing countries feel that many nuances and disparities are lost in such measures, not only in relation to poverty, but also, for example, hunger.

Anyone aware of the varying importance, over time, of income and monetary prices in most countries would be uncomfortable with such individual measures. But it was nonetheless announced a lot and included continued progress until the Covid-19 pandemic.

He rejected such a singular Poverty measures It led to multidimensional poverty indicators to meet ‘basic needs’. While these “dashboard” statistics provide more nuances, the constant desire for a single metric has led to the development, promotion, and generalization of composite indicators.

Worse still, this was usually accompanied by problematic classification exercises using such compound pointers. Many have become obsessed with this classification, rather than the underlying social and economic processes and actual progress.

Blind neglect
Thus improving these metrics has become an end in itself, with little discussion of these one-dimensional means of measuring progress. The resulting “tunnel vision” means ignoring other measures of well-being.

In recent decades, cash crops have been promoted rather than subsistence farming. However, many children of subsistence farmers who are cash poor get nutritionally better and healthier nutrition from the offspring of financially better-off cash crops or “commercial” farmers.

Meanwhile, as cash income rises, people with diet-related non-communicable diseases are on the rise. While life expectancy has increased in most parts of the world, healthy life expectancy has progressed less with ill health increasingly stalking the sunset years of a longer life.

Be careful what you wish for
Meanwhile, while poor countries get limited assistance in their efforts to adapt to global warming, the rich countries ’focus on supporting mitigation efforts has included, among other things, the promotion of” no-till agriculture “. Thus the attribution of greenhouse gas emissions implies the corresponding mitigation efforts by Increased herbicide use.

Maximizing the carbon uptake of unmown farm topsoil requires more reliance on toxic, if not carcinogenic, pesticides, especially herbicides. But tackling global warming doesn’t have to be at the expense of sustainable agriculture.

Likewise, a global carbon tax would increase the price of electricity and reduce access to the “energy poor,” who make up a fifth of the world’s population. Rich countries’ support for affordable renewable energy for poor countries and people will solve this dilemma.

In the wake of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, the United Nations proposed a new green global deal (GGND) And which included such mutual support by rich countries for the advancement of sustainable development elsewhere.

The 2009 G20 London Summit raised more than the targeted $ 1 trillion. But the resources have mainly gone to strengthening the IMF, rather than the GGND proposal. Thus, the financing fetish has robbed the opportunity to revive global economic growth, with sustainable development gains for all.

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© Inter Press Service (2021) – All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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