Redefining Development

Refining Development

"We must embark on a bold new program for making the benefits of our scientific advances and industrial progress available for the improvement and. growth of underdeveloped areas."

-U.S. President Harry Truman, Inaugural Address, Jan. 20, 1949

This series is another in the set of programmes I made between 1985 and 1985 on the theme of "development."  In this. case, the programmes were an overflow from "The Age of Ecology," an eight hour series broadcast in the spring of 1990, which was already longer than anything one person had presented on Ideas before.  (Going back to the 1970's, there had been lots of lengthy Ideas series on big themes like "Rivers" or "Balance and Biosphere" but they always assembled the work of many different programme-makers.  I was pushing the limits of what could be done by one writer/broadcaster.). Creating a separate series for the interviews concerned, broadly speaking, with economic development made sense, and "Redefining Development" was the result. 

These programmes took up many of the same issues as "The Earth is Not an Ecosytem," broadcast a couple of years later.   The first considered the question of whether development could be renewed and refocused under the name sustainable development.  David Brooks, then with the International Development Research Centre in Ottawa, argued for this view.  Wolfgang Sachs asserted, to the contrary, that development was a concept, deserving only "an obituary," as he put it in The Development Dictionary, a volume he edited and published two years after this broadcast.  The second programme featured Patricia Adams of Toronto's Probe International.  She had just published Odious Debts, a study of the debt crisis produced by all the lending and borrowing that had gone on in the name of development.   With reference to a doctrine in international law which allows repudiation of debts where the money is misappropriated or the debt is undertaken under fraudulent circumstances, she claimed that many of the debts incurred were "odious,"    The third broadcast gave the stage to Herman Daly, an American economist who had spent much of his career reflecting on how to get to a no-growth, or steady state economy.  And, finally, I presented Robert Swann and Susan Witt of the Schumacher Society in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, pioneers in creating the modallities of a new economics through their work in developing local currencies and community land trusts. 

The series was broadcast in the fall of 1990...