Leading development economists offer alternatives
The current global economic and financial scenario has been described as the “mess we are in” by Sir Richard Jolly at a global conference on a new economic and financial architecture taking place in Brazil this week. He pointed out the lack of good governance in many countries.
Jolly, director of the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, United Kingdom, for nearly a decade, was speaking at the conference in Guarulhos, Brazil, organised by the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) along with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Council for World Mission (CWM).
The event brought more than sixty economists, theologians, anti-poverty campaigners and social scientists to Brazil from September 29 to October 5.
“The cause of so many of our difficulties is that the world’s global economic system has run so far ahead of the world’s global governance system,” said Jolly, while introducing “Be Outraged”, a booklet he recently produced with 11 other British economists and social scientists.
Jolly’s extensive experience with international diplomatic organisations such as UNICEF and the UN Committee on Development Planning has provided a highlight among the presentations at the conference. He spoke on the assumption voiced by some describing the current financial and economic crisis as “being unnecessary”, reflecting that Europe must learn from some of the emerging and developing countries.
Speaking on the role of the churches, Jolly said that “we can’t leave everything to politicians alone. There needs to be a groundswell of public opinion, and at that level the churches have an important role of voice and mobilisation.”
“Professor Jolly was right to stress that a new international architecture must not be restricted to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank but needs to include the United Nations and its agencies,” said Dr Stephen Brown, a board member of the World Association for Christian Communication.
“It needs to encompass those global institutions regulating the information and communication technologies that represent the central nervous system of the current financial architecture,” added Brown.
He concluded by stressing the importance of the challenges presented to the participants of the conference: “Building a new architecture means more than institutional reform,” he said, “but also creating an alternative neural network that affirms justice and challenges injustice”.
For Dr Puleng Lenka Bula, associate professor of ethics at the University of South Africa, the economic system itself is unkind, especially to the poor, the marginalised and women.
“A reform of the global governance of the finance and economic system is an urgent imperative to ensure full participation of the global South in decision-making processes,” said Lenka Bula.
“A radical engineering of a different global governance system with democratic representation is essential to ensure consideration in the making of a social agenda. This agenda ensures that people’s wellbeing and fullness of life are available, ecological and economic justice are manifest and considerations for current and future generations are taken as part of the benchmarks of accounting in financial systems,” she said.
Conference in Brazil links people’s struggle with financial architecture (WCC press release of October 2 2012)