It seems almost self-evident that in this age of globalized trade and information, an integrated approach to development is the only possible course. Any successful development must take into account the social, cultural, economic, environmental, and geographic realities that shape the lives of people all over the world.
The idea of holistic development is not a new one. But the development efforts of the 1970s and 1980s were often hampered by a “one-size-fits-all” mentality, prescribing reforms from a centralized perspective, without regard for the territorially specific needs of a given population or community. In addition, they tended to keep the sectors discrete—agricultural development encompassed a broad range of components, from infrastructure to technology to skills enhancement, but it did not benefit from coordination with, for instance, the health or education sectors. The new model of integrated development recognizes no such barriers.
In this book, the phrases “vicious cycle,” and, unfortunately, less frequently, “virtuous cycle” recur, in different contexts and in reference to different issues. They are useful visual images, ones that emphasize the necessity of an integrated approach. Poverty is perpetuated by poor health, and poor health is perpetuated by poverty. When a girl is kept from attending school, she cannot learn the life skills needed to protect herself against HIV/AIDS, and in many cases it is because she has to stay home and care for a family member infected with the disease that she cannot attend school. A family may work their land in a way that is harmful to the environment because they cannot afford the technology inputs that would allow them to work in a sustainable manner, but when their land is depleted, their livelihood will become even more precarious. Unfair or un-enforced land policies also may keep them from investing in sustainable agricultural practices, which, in turn, undermines their economic and nutritional security. And a family struggling to feed itself is less likely to be in the position to demand that the state protect its rights to the land.
These somewhat simplistic scenarios illustrate the fundamental value of a holistic approach to development. Without it, well-intentioned reforms and
Material for the introduction was drawn from a variety of sources, including issues papers and summaries for the following ECOSOC ministerial roundtable discussions: “Addressing the Needs of LDCs: Is Rural Development the Answer?” hosted by OHRLLS, 1 July 2003; “Integrated Approach to the Implementation of MDGs in the Area of Rural Development,” hosted by UNDP, 30 June 2003; “Global Partnerships for Rural Development,” hosted by World Bank and IFAD, 30 June 2003; and the ECOSOC brainstorming session, 24 March 2003.