Making sustainable development a reality – movements that inspire change
Host [00:00:01] You are listening to Make Change Happen, the podcast from the International Institute for Environment and Development. This episode brings together some established IIED friends and family to acknowledge our 50-year anniversary; to explore the key sustainable developments movements our guests and IIED have been part of; and to look at what’s next for these movements in terms of challenge and opportunity and how IIED can respond.
Liz Carlile [00:00:27] Hello and a very warm welcome to IIED’s Make Change Happen. Today we’ll be exploring 'Connecting for Common Goals – Fifty Years of IIED and Sustainable Development'. I’m your host, Liz Carlile, and I’m absolutely delighted to welcome to our conversation today three people who I have worked with for many years, and who I believe have been absolutely pivotal in helping drive the change that IIED staff, colleagues, partners and wider stakeholders have all been striving for. And without further ado, I’m actually going to ask them to introduce themselves straightaway. Perhaps we could start with you, Camilla?
Camilla Toulmin [00:01:11] Yes, good morning, my name is Camilla Toulmin. I’ve spent 28 years at IIED, latterly as its director. I’m now partly at Lancaster University but also at a new organisation called the Africa Europe Foundation, based in Brussels.
Liz Carlile [00:01:31] That’s brilliant. Thanks, Camilla. Very warm welcome to you. Saleem?
Saleemul Huq [00:01:36] Hi everybody and good morning. I’m Saleemul Huq, I’m currently the director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development at the Independent University, Bangladesh in Dhaka, Bangladesh. I also have a long experience with the IIED from around 2000, I headed the Climate Change programme at IIED for many years and I’m still very closely associated, so very glad to be here.
Liz Carlile [00:02:04] And we’re really glad to have you, Saleem. Welcome. Steve?
Steve Bass [00:02:09] Hi, I’m Steve Bass. I’ve just realised I’ve been 40 years working in sustainable development, not quite 50. And I’ve been associated with IIED for 30 years and I’m right now an associate of IIED, although I have an independent position.
Liz Carlile [00:02:27] That’s brilliant. And it’s great to have you with us today, and I hope our podcast listeners will realise that you’ve been kind of chosen specially because you have had this long history, not only with IIED but in the kind of sustainable development movement. And this podcast kind of rounds off our kind of 50 years thinking about what we’ve been doing, what we’ve been doing in the past and what we should be doing in the future. And I suppose IIED was created 50 years ago at a time when the idea of sustainable development – and for us particularly that linking of environment and development together – this was new, you know. But since then we’ve seen ideas and approaches and the politics of the sustainable development sector really grow and change. And I think we’ve seen this sort of rise of different and distinct movements.
And Steve, you know, when we were talking about what could we do for our birthday, we asked you to think about this question around, you know, what movements were there. We’ve understood a lot about climate justice, and Saleem you will talk to that. We’ve talked about local agency over natural resources, and Steve and Camilla, you’ve both been very much a part of those discussions. But there have been lots of different movements.
So Steve, you wrote something for us and that can now be found on the IIED website: 'Connecting for Common Goals – Fifty Years of IIED and Sustainable Development'. How did you find this? You know, what did you... what influenced you when you were thinking about whether these were movements, whether they were key moments? What was the kind of thing that you noticed in this work?
Steve Bass [00:04:20] Yeah, well this was an exciting bit of work to do. I mean 50 years of sustainable development, you know, this was never going to be about moments in time. It’s going to be about wide movements over time, inspired by sustainable development. I mean it’s not as if once we agreed the idea of sustainable development in Stockholm in ’72 there was ever going to be a sort of single grand sustainable development plan with organised implementation and neat sort of milestone dates. So discussing with you and IIED colleagues, we identified that there are these, probably about ten, movements that in practice are pushing sustainable development forward.
And we’ve found different groups of people from different places and disciplines coming together, bringing their energies together and innovating to achieve an aspect of sustainable development that they can do something about – improve participation, sustainability science, local control of resources. These are the kinds of movements, energised movements, that have sort of like a decade and longer lengths. This is a kind of generational change, and we, I think we’ve identified about ten. It’s a bit arbitrary and they’re not separate. The point is they’re linked – they inform each other, they evolve and new movements emerge and combined –it’s these movements that have formed this sort of flood of innovation and commitment. It’s these movements that have led to what we’ve seen of sustainable development now. I mean one thing I think colleagues were clear of was that these movements come from sort of different types of power. So we’ve got this, the kind of core movement about developing a series of, you know, these intergovernmental agreements on sustainable development, climate change.
That uses the UN’s convening power, and government policy power. And that movement kicked off and it’s sort of been enriched by the planetary science movement, which draws on the power of scientific knowledge. But I think, the movements that IIED’s most helped to kick off really are all these movements around local agency. The movement around local control of forests and drylands, the movement around grassroots urbanisation, developed through the power of local knowledge and legitimacy but we helped that by bringing convening power and creating a solidarity. I could talk more about IIED’s role in these things, but it’s these movements over time that in a sense have made sustainable development real.
Camilla Toulmin [00:07:22] And I think it’s kind of built, isn’t it, on I think in all of this work, yours, Steve’s, Saleem’s, mine and many others, it’s kind of built on a fundamental belief and confidence in the strength and wisdom of people on the ground. It’s drawn... drawing from that. It’s recognising that there’s tremendous knowledge capacity and ability to do things at that, you know, community, at that community level. That’s not to say that people know everything. Very often there’s a good kind of mix of local knowledge and outside expertise that can help make things work better. But I think it’s a fundamental belief that local people’s knowledge, understanding and wisdom and capacity is a very good starting place.
Steve Bass [00:08:25] As you’ve shown, Camilla, in this sort of solidarity with drylands people, as Saleem has shown solidarity with the least developed countries that are vulnerable on climate change, I think this is – as you say – this is IIED’s role. Connecting that... those local people to the global policy. Connecting environment to development. Collecting, connecting people to science, to policy.
Camilla Toulmin [00:08:51] But I think it’s also based on the fact that we recognise that there is, as you said earlier, a big power dimension to this. And that there happens to be a sort of unequal struggle between forces of government, aid agencies, big companies, modernisation, however you want to describe it. And the kind of power that grassroots groups can exercise on the ground. And I think our role has been – wherever possible – to try and rebalance that power inequality, whether in terms of rights, whether in terms of capacities to mobilise, but also in terms of voice and recognition.
Liz Carlile [00:09:42] So one of the things I wanted to perhaps bring Saleem in here was to think, you know, these what we’ve called kind of “movements” if you like are collections of people working towards a particular issue. And I know when I started at IIED – which was I think when IIED was about five years old was my first time at IIED – we spent a lot of time defining things, defining what is desertification, defining what is forestry, defining what is climate change. People were not at this, the time where something, we’d got the evidence. We hadn’t got this is a mainstream issue. And Saleem I was thinking, you know, you brought climate change, I think, to IIED, if I remember rightly, where you were really trying to swell that movement, to build that evidence, to bring that together and to really show the things that Steve and Camilla have just been talking about. What’s been your reflection on that?
Saleemul Huq [00:10:42] Absolutely right, Liz. In fact my framing of the conversation we’ve just had with Steve and Camilla is that it’s an imbalance between what I call the top down global conferences, UN conferences, national policies, and the bottom up, which is where IIED has a special... I think capability that’s been built over years, of bringing those local voices and giving them space in these both national level discussions – which are very important – as well as the global level discussions. And my entry into IIED around 2000, 2001, was to bring that climate change adaptation dimension.
At that time climate change was very much about greenhouse gas emissions, reducing emissions, which we called mitigation. Which is all absolutely needed but what we were not at that point in time realising is that climate impacts are going to happen, they’re going to happen on the poorest people on the planet who are absolutely unprepared and in fact who didn’t contribute to the problem. So there’s a major injustice involved in the climate problem where rich people cause the problem but poor people suffer for it. And that climate injustice is something that I’ve been working on for the last two decades, and IIED has been very much part of as well.
Liz Carlile [00:12:16] So to all of you, you know, if, what’s been, what have been pivotal moments where you’ve thought, OK, we’re making progress? What have been the sort of milestones? I mean for, for many of us in communications for example, we see these external moments that we respond to, kind of UN meetings, places and times where people come together and share the ideas they’ve been working on. But for you, working around these power dynamics, for you thinking about this, forgetting the top-down approaches and the global injustices, where have you seen the real moments where you’ve thought, yes, we’re on the right track or yes, something is happening.
Saleemul Huq [00:12:58] Well let me come in on that one. On the climate change arena there were two pivotal agreements, firstly the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in the first place – 1992. But then in Paris in 2015 we had a big, big achievement at the 21st Conference of Parties of the UN framework convention, where we agreed the Paris Agreement.
That was a breakthrough of global negotiation, global agreements to keep temperature below 1.5 degrees, and for the rich countries to provide a US$100 billion a year to the developing countries. We are still not on track to deliver that, but at least we have an agreement to do that. And every year we come together at the Conference of Parties and can track process. But at the same time, from the bottom up, I’ve been working and IIED has been working and continues to work with the group of most vulnerable developing countries called the least developed countries. There are 48of them – and they are mostly in sub-Saharan Africa but also in Asia, including my country, Bangladesh – where we’ve been engaging at the national level, particularly with research institutes and universities, building knowledge and capacity to actually tackle the problems on the ground, because that’s where it really matters.
Global agreements are good but if they don’t deliver anything then they’re not that useful. So getting things done on the ground has been a major part of what I used to do at IIED and what I now continue to do in my centre in Bangladesh and continue to collaborate with IIED on. And this is a movement, it is a genuine movement of bottom-up, local level adaptation actors from the most vulnerable countries.
Liz Carlile [00:14:49] No, that’s great. I mean we can see that it is a movement, even though it still has its challenges. It’s, Camilla, Steve – what have been the sort of moments in your sort of sectors where you’ve thought, OK, something has happened here?
Camilla Toulmin [00:15:04] Yeah, well I suppose when we started the drylands programme back in the late ‘80s, essentially we were seizing an opportunity to reframe the debate around drylands from a perception of desertification that was going to sweep all before it, to one in which you could actually point to a whole series of very promising, usually locally-led initiatives, that were actually improving landscapes, increasing crop yields, generating better livelihoods for people across the Sahel.
So, I mean that’s from a long time ago. I think today, you can find particular places where you’ve got champions in government for the sorts of approaches that we’ve been working on. So for example, in Senegal, Mali, Kenya and Tanzania, the approaches that we’ve been piloting of locally-led, locally delivered climate finance, putting money where it matters, have now been taken up by governments in each of those countries who want to make it their way of delivering climate adaptation and resilience building to people on the ground. And that’s a wonderful feeling that, you know, something that had promise is now being spread and recognised very much more broadly.
Liz Carlile [00:16:45] That’s exciting, isn’t it, because so much of this is a kind of relentless repetition of what’s needed. It’s great to see those moments. Steve, what about you?
Steve Bass [00:16:56] Well let’s look at another area. I think in the area of business there have been lots of moments and IIED’s been connected to several of them. The whole trend in the last, well, 50 years of business moving from completely denying negative impacts on local people and environments, through to recognising those impacts and trying to clean up, through to what we have now which is recognising a dependence on local communities, on the natural capital. And there have been some key moments.
I think, I mean IIED has really helped here. We ran a global study on the paper industry. And this was occasioned by a Brazilian producer saying, [coughs], “You know what’s better? Paper made from well managed forests, virgin fibre, or recycled? Have a look for us.” And that process led to a, you know, an acceptance of the need for forest standards that suit local groups, that suit different country contexts, of the idea of certification became a norm. It set up a whole dialogue process that continues today under the guise The Forests Dialogue, that’s run by Yale University. And then we took those lessons and brought them to the mining industry, which was really helpful because, because it wasn’t forestry, it wasn’t immediately threatening to the mining industry. But the same process went ahead with Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development leading to an organisation, a set of standards.
This is by no means yet mainstream, but there is at least a mainstream expectation that businesses will value the social and natural capital, they will think about their dependence upon it. But it’s scattered, it’s not yet universal, but the one other thing I, the one other moment that I think will help business and everyone else, is the moment when we agreed the Sustainable Development Goals, which is now a universal set of goals. It’s not just about the North/South bargain, it’s not just about the aid programme that we had before. It’s about everyone running their countries, running their businesses, running their local societies around the principles of sustainable development. So we have this, this single agreement that I think is quite a milestone.
Liz Carlile [00:19:39] Does anyone else want to comment on that kind of, you know, the universality of the SDGs?
Camilla Toulmin [00:19:47] Yeah, well, I agree with Steve that it was a pretty amazing milestone. I think the worry is that it somehow loses a sense of focus because of the extraordinary breadth. And so how they’re then picked up by particular governments and translated into a set of things that make sense for them, I think that’s where the challenge lies. I noticed that our government and European governments for instance refer very little to the SDGs in terms of their own pathway for development.
Climate, the climate goals are there but broader goals around health, education, building a global partnership, I find much less evident. So I think we’ve still got a bit of a tendency to think of these as being something that’s for countries in other parts of the world rather than for our own countries and societies. And I think that’s an area that we need to really start to push in more.
Liz Carlile [00:20:56] Saleem, what’s the sort of the ICAD take? Or how are the SDGs perceived in Bangladesh where you are? Are they a useful mechanism?
Saleemul Huq [00:21:08] They are very much indeed, because the SDGs were actually preceded a decade before, a decade and a half before, by the MDGs – the Millennium Development Goals – which were purely development. They didn’t include environment in them. But Bangladesh was one of the few least-developed countries that actually took the MDGs very seriously, and was very largely successful in meeting most of them. Not exactly everything but we were very proud to have done well on the MDGs, and hence, we got very much involved as a country – both the government and the people – in shaping the SDGs, making sure that the SDGs were more comprehensible, comprehensive and comprehensible. And making sure that environment and social issues got more prominence in the SDGs. And since the SDGs have been adopted, Bangladesh is one of the countries that has made fulfilling SDGs a national objective.
Every ministry, as well as civil society organisation, has identified the SDGs with which they are most closely associated, and always more than one. Not focusing on just one, to Camilla’s point, that we need to connect things to each other. And as I work on SDG 13, on climate, climate connects with almost all the other SDGs in a very significant way. And so we have movements of each individual SDG bringing together people from government and non-governmental sectors, but at the same time across all the SDGs. And it’s a very, very useful organising principle of a whol- of-society approach to development in general of the country of Bangladesh, and something other countries might want to learn from as well.
Liz Carlile [00:23:06] That’s really interesting to hear because I had one question that I wanted to ask you all. It’s kind of something that I’ve been thinking about, is that to what extent do these kind of movements, the different movements, the different areas that people work in – to what extent are they in competition with each other rather than as you’re saying, Saleem, something that invites a connection between the different way people think and the things they have to do? And Camilla you just pointed to this just now, you know, it’s terrific to have a broad global vision but, you know, when it comes to the different ministries, the different departments, the different people who are working on the ground to achieve change, you know, they can’t work with breadth. They have to work with specificity. So how does this, how does this movement idea either compete or reinforce each other? I’d love to know what you think about that? Have we wasted time through competition or is this getting us aligned and in the same place?
Camilla Toulmin [00:24:11] Well I think there’s always going to be competition between movements and between the, particularly between the institutions that, um, kind of firmly plant their flag in a particular movement, because in a very crowded world where you’re competing for attention and resources, um, you need to make sure that your particular organisation and structure, um, is, is going to survive and, and thrive within that space. I think that’s inevitable, um, but I think, er, it’s also true that as long as you’ve got people who recognise the kind of higher purpose and the fact that you’ve got, um, a shared, um, a shared long-term common interest, you can find ways in which to build partnerships together, recognising that the problems are so big that people really do need to work together. And you can achieve far more, um, if you, if you collaborate.
Steve Bass [00:25:18] I’d agree with Camilla, but I’d emphasise that, you know there is healthy competition. It’s helpful as a way to innovate. One of the issues of sustainable development is, you know, we can be so paralysed by its complexity that we need people to enter it with the kind of different angles, different technologies. And IIED’s encouraged this, and it’s helped things like participatory movements and local control over forests and drylands to come up as more efficient and effective, and cost effective ways of providing both livelihoods and environments. So there’s the innovation side is helpful. What I think is not helpful is the kind of... those with funds change their whim all the time. It’s the kind of what I call fashion and fatwahs.
Some of the funding agencies will drop the ball and then move to another fashion next year. But the thing about these movements is that they’re over decades, they’re over generations and they need continuous support. What I’d hate to think of is that we’ve had what we call ten movements in 50 years and we now drop them and invent some new ones. No, they need continuous, and helpful and knowledgeable support. And this again is, I think, a great IIED role, being able to expose them, being able to make them, offering platforms for them to link, to keep them alive in different ways and to show mutual respect. I mean the whole intergovernmental process movements have got richer because of the work that businesses have done, the work that communities have done, the work that scientists have done and they – as Camilla says – they need to keep coming together, enriching together, braiding together.
Liz Carlile [00:27:12] And Camilla, you may not have remembered but I think in, you know, when we were discussing this podcast the four of us, you said something about the importance of saying things, the same things to new audiences. And that finding traction as the world becomes ready and that you saw these movements as kind of rivers that diverge and loop. I mean I thought that was a really nice way of, of sort of showing how the ebb and flow of ideas does need to sort of come together and, and move apart and come together again.
Camilla Toulmin [00:27:47] Yeah. And capture the attention of new and different audiences. Steve has raised that in relation to the private sector. I mean I remember back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, you know, if you talked to somebody in business as an NGO person, you were considered really to have strayed into supping, supping with the devil. And I think that kind of being brave and starting conversations with people who are outside your comfort zone is absolutely critical. I think for us now, we need to be thinking about, you know, next generation. Here we are, we’re all in our sixties with grey hair and thinking about how you support the next generation and the generation below that, see their role in this field, is vital. And they’re going to see it in a different way. And as Steve says, probably in a much more innovative and possibly in a way that shakes things up so that we aren’t necessarily comfortable but it’ll be the new way of addressing sustainable development issues, given a changing context.
Saleemul Huq [00:29:05] If I can come in on that?
Liz Carlile [00:29:06] Yes, Saleem, I was just going to ask you because your, also your close connection to the Least Developed Countries Group have been shaking things up for a long time. It would be good to hear your thoughts.
Saleemul Huq [00:29:18] Sure. So I wanted to pick up on Camilla’s point about the next generation. You know, one of the transitions that I made from leaving IIED and setting up my centre in Bangladesh, is to be with the university where I now have students and I teach. And the next generation to me is really where my hope lies in terms of taking all of the ideas we’ve been working on for the last 50 years and shaping them much more effectively than we have done. We’ve done good stuff but we haven’t done enough. And we need to be doing a lot more a lot faster, collectively. And I’d say two major possibilities that have been become clear now that were less clear before – firstly the new generation of young people all over the world are very, very attuned, very, very connected and really do think of themselves as global citizens as much as they are citizens of their countries or even of their cities and communities.
And secondly, the technology now allows us to work together in common purpose. You know, the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to go online but it has had a co-benefit of the whole world is now connected online with each other and quite effectively. And I can tell you, schoolchildren, the schoolchildren’s movement, the Fridays for Future that was, you know, inspired by Greta Thunberg from Sweden, that’s a very, very effective global movement of young kids. Every Friday they just do something innovative and they come out and do stuff and they work together. And that to me is a very, very inspiring global movement. In fact much more inspiring than the UN [laughs] meetings of governments who talk but don’t do anything.
Liz Carlile [00:31:09] That’s so good to hear you say that, Saleem, because I think we – the we of the world – you know, certain messages that we get are about some of the dooms and glooms of technology but actually the opportunities, if we use these right, can be immense. And, and I want to come back to that in a moment when I ask you our last question. But what I would like before we do that, I just want to focus in on what I think has been really important as IIED’s space in this collective movement, which has been this link between environment and development. And all over the years that I’ve worked with all of you, I’ve seen you bring those two spaces together. I’ve seen us in IIED bring those spaces together, and our partners bring those spaces together. But so many people have not made that link. How is that for you now, how are you feeling about the strength of that connection, the alignment of those schools of thought?
Camilla Toulmin [00:32:09] Well to my mind, we continued to see them being pushed – often very separately and often in competition to each other. For instance if I look at my own country where I am today in Scotland, people are incredibly keen on covering the landscape with trees. They really want an awful lot of big tree planting because they think that’s the solution to climate change sequestration of carbon. But very often it’s done in a way and pushed in a fashion that has not bearing on how that land was used before, on the interests and livelihoods of local communities around. And very often it’s also rather counter-productive by digging holes in peat in order to plant conifers. So I fear that with many of these issues we continue to struggle to try and make those connections.
Steve Bass [00:33:16] Yeah, just to elaborate. It’s interesting, isn’t it, IIED hasn’t changed its name for 50 years, it’s still the Institute for Environment and Development because the world is still organised in silos. So I think in a small way over the years IIED has run a sort of meta movement, embracing environment and development, watching what’s going on in each field, pointing out, you know, checks and balances, all the discussion on carbon – yes, but hang on a minute, any old carbon will do.
What about biodiversity? What about the people who live on the land? So we have been able to watch these things and provide a bridge and a platform. But I do think in future we need to get to grips with the challenge of really rewiring institutions for sustainable development, institutional structures at country and business level that are truly integrated. Every single international agreement [laughs] on sustainable development calls for an integrated approach, but it’s not yet embedded in the institutions. I think we have a role here. IIED has always supported sort of really authentic accountable local institutions and maybe there’s more we can do here to, to up our game towards the whole kind of institutional structure.
Liz Carlile [00:34:42] Saleem, what’s your thinking here?
Saleemul Huq [00:34:45] I think, you know there are three levels at which, we have been conceptualising and operating at these global movements. The global level primarily under the United Nations, different conventions on different environmental issues like biodiversity and climate change and desertification. At the national level, where national governments have to think about putting into practice all these things that they agree at the global level, but then they have to convey to the national level and actually implement, where the contradictions and the trade-offs have become apparent, and unfortunately the economic weight of every argument, the short-term economic gain prevails over long-term economic gain. And then there’s the third and in my view most important level, which is at the very local level and primarily for the poorest, most vulnerable citizens in every country. And unfortunately, that particular grouping – wherever it is, even in a rich country – poor and vulnerable people are the ones who get short shrift.
If you look at the impacts of climate change, or even look at the impacts of COVID-19 in rich countries, the people who died were poor people. The people, not rich people. And so that is a, a universal phenomena where every country, the governance system - no matter how democratic it might claim to be – does not favour the most vulnerable and the poorest people. And in a sense, you know, I would say the meta argument that we have been doing, at least from my perspective, has been a justice argument. It is an injustice argument that rich people cause problems that make poor people suffer. And that’s not right. And we need to rectify it. Now we don’t do it through revolution, we do it through science and argument and evidence gathering. But that, to me, has been my driving force in being part of this journey and movement with IIED. And my many colleagues, like Steve and Camilla and all our other colleagues, I think that’s something we all share.
Liz Carlile [00:36:56] I think you’re absolutely right, and it is really good to hear you use the justice, injustice words. For me they’re absolutely critical.
Liz Carlile [00:37:10] This has been a really interesting discussion and we’ve been inevitably looking back over the 50 years, because that’s what we were thinking about, you know, what were these movements like, were we connecting around common goals. But I want us as our last sort of point of conversation here to be looking forward. And I want us to think about some of the opportunities that you’ve mentioned. You know, we as the older generation need to perhaps still bring our wisdom and experience but we need to fade into a new future, something that will be driven much harder by younger audiences, by the youth of today. We mustn’t forget the importance of gender – that drives a lot of our thinking. We mustn’t forget, and we want to drive a much more nuanced discussion around structural racism and diversity.
And we have the opportunity of technology, you know, this should provide us with a platform for enormous change going forward. So I always close this podcast with a question to my co-conversationalists and that is what is the change that you want to see, looking forward into this what we think will be a rich and dynamic future? Saleem, what’s the change you want to see? What’s got to happen? What are a couple of things that have got to happen for this to...
Saleemul Huq [00:38:37] Well I’ll share with you what I tell young people all over the world, wherever I meet them, including in my country in Bangladesh. I tell them that the time has come now – and, and this is a very recent phenomena – where every individual young person needs to think of herself or himself as first a global citizen of planet Earth. And only second as a citizen of your respective country or your respective community or city, if you live in a city. And being a global citizen has both empowerment functions as well as responsibilities. The problems that your generation will face are global problems, they’re not necessarily only national problems. And you have to think as a global citizen with fellow citizens from around the world to solve those problems in a bottom-up, individually inspired manner. You have to be the ones to make those changes. Don’t expect them from your leaders.
Liz Carlile [00:39:43] That’s brilliant. Thank you, Saleem. Camilla, how about you?
Camilla Toulmin [00:39:48] Well, recognising how we are all the product of our own personal experience and history, I think there are two things. One is to provide an opportunity for younger colleagues to spend serious time in societies that are different from our own so that they can gain the perspective which you only get from having time somewhere very, very different. I think that’s one thing. And the second is to very much look at our own societies, in ways which allow us to recognise the commonality of purpose that Saleem has mentioned in terms of global challenges. But seeing where we can learn lessons, and share expertise, as we’re trying to do for instance with the Africa Europe Foundation on learning lessons about adaptation to climate change, where very often we need to be looking to countries like Bangladesh or countries in Africa so that we can better design resilience in our own countries.
Liz Carlile [00:41:06] Thank you. So, Steve, last but by no means least, what’s the thing that has to change for you, or continue perhaps?
Steve Bass [00:41:15] [Laughs] Well, I hope I’m still young enough to take Saleem’s and Camilla’s good advice, as I agree with it. I think the big change is that we need to shift from, from sort of pushing sustainable development from the margins to supporting societal demand. I mean things don’t really change just by sort of top-down policy and programmes.
They change because people want them. So we’ve seen that sustainable development is being achieved through movements, but I think we need to do more to find movements that are happening in other areas – the social movements, the youth movements – and start with their energy rather than just our evidence as we’ve been doing with IIED. And that is, that is about feeding it with the right information and realising and helping the agency of those social movements. So we move from a kind of supply push to a demand pull approach. And I do think that demand is demand for all sorts of mixed things. Camilla used the word resilience. You know, as we move forward we’ve really got to get to grips with today’s really unstable contexts – you know with debt distress and inequality and sort of undermine multilateralism. So where there’s demand for resilience, there’s demand for restoration helping that with, with good sustainable development ideas. But, you know, I wouldn’t want to, I wouldn’t want to ignore these ten [laughs], ten movements that are hard won.
They explain much of the impact, the progress to date, and they haven’t ended. They’re a great 50-year legacy so we need to continue to invest long-term in them, and in their interaction. It's been an interesting conversation. I’ve enjoyed it. Thank you [laughs].
Liz Carlile [00:43:19] No, thank you and thank you all. And I think that was a good reminder to end on, you know [laughs], that the war is not yet won and the movements are still there, and they’re thriving and they’re going to be going into a future and, and Saleem I loved your statement, you know, to push for being a global citizen of planet Earth. And that for me still seems a really strong inspiration and a vision. Thank you all so much for our conversation today. It’s been really good. And listeners, if you’ve enjoyed this, please do tell friends and colleagues to take a listen too. And, and, and as always you can find further information on www.iied.org. Thank you very much and goodbye.
Host [00:44:09] And you can find out more about today’s podcast, our guests and their work at www.iied.org/podcast, where you can also listen to more episodes. You can leave us feedback or follow the podcast at soundcloud.com/theiied. The podcast is produced and recorded by our in-house communication team. For more information about IIED and our work, please visit us online at www.iied.org.
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