International Development — Where do you want to plug in?

While at SOCAP 10 I had the good fortune to meet a gentleman who specializes in scenario planning. Naturally I asked him about his favorite projections for population growth, and he mentioned the TED videos of Hans Rosling.

In the following video, Hans Rosling offers an intriguing way of visualizing the “bigger picture” of international development, using colored IKEA storage boxes to make his point.

I wanted to share this video because I saw two very different places for development efforts to plug-in.

On the one hand there is the “bottom billion” that he represents on the very left of the table. These are the places where levels of poverty are largely unchanged over the last 50 years of development efforts. I offer that there is important work to do here in building long-overdue momentum towards improvement.

On the other hand there are the countries in the middle, where there is already momentum and where improvement is happening. I offer here that the work is helping to develop even stronger infrastructure and governance so that these countries can grow in a healthy way.

Both of these challenges are very worthwhile, yet the challenges between them are very different. I think it’s worth asking ourselves as individuals “where do I want to fit in?”

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