POL540 EXAM NOTES 2
Globalization – Article: Poverty, Development, and Hunger
The monetary-based conception of poverty has been almost universalized among governments and
international organizations since 1945.
Poverty is interpreted as a condition suffered by people who do not earn enough money to satisfy their basic
material requirements in the market place.
Developed countries have regarded poverty as being something external to them and a defining feature of the
Third World. This view has provided justification for the former to help ‘develop’ the latter by promoting their
further integration into the global market.
However, such poverty is increasingly endured by significant sectors of the population in the North, as well as
the Third World, hence rendering traditional categories less useful.
A critical alternative view of poverty places more emphasis on lack of access to community-regulated common
resources, the erosion of community ties and spiritual values.
In 1945 the USA has carte blanche to set up a liberal international economic order, the institutional pillars of
which were the IMF, the World Bank, and the GATT
The cold war stimulated competition between the West and the East to win allies in the developing world. Most
of the latter were born into the Western international economy and saw their development within the context
of that system i.e. based on growth within a free market.
Progress was achieved under the orthodox development criteria of GDP per capita, economic growth and
industrialization. Yet despite apparent success in conventional terms, there has been an explosive widening of
the gap between the richest and poorest 20 percent of the world’s population, and the developing countries as
a group have entered the 90s more indebted than the 80s.
Dependency theorists see this as predictable, arguing that export-oriented, free-market development promoted
in the Third World has increased the wealth of the West and of Southern elites.
Trickle-down has been discredited, and it has been recognized that economic growth only reduces poverty if
accompanied by specific economic and social policies. In recognition of the failure of economic growth-based
indices of development, the UNDP Human Development Index was designed in 1990 to measure development in
terms of longevity, education, and average purchasing power.
The last two decades have seen increasing debate about what constitutes development, with NGOs and
grassroots activist playing a significant role.
An alternative view of development has emerged, based on the transformation of existing power structures
which uphold the status quo. Such structures vary in scope from the global to local; for example, at a global level
the international economy severely disadvantages the poorest 20% of the global population, whilst at a local
level land tenure patterns affect the ability of people to provide for themselves
Grassroots organizations challenge entrenched power structures as people defend their rights, as they define
them, seeking local control and empowerment. Development in this alternative view can be seen as facilitating a
community’s progress on its own terms. The Alternative Declaration of NGOs at the Copenhagen Summit
stressed community participation, empowerment, equity, self-reliance, and sustainability.
The development orthodoxy remains essentially unchanged. However, the mainstream debate has shifted from
growth to sustainable development – the view that current development should not be at the expense of future
generations or the natural environment.
The orthodox view asserts that sustainable development is to be achieved by further growth through a universal
free-market. It is believed that this will free up resources to care for the environment and to ensure social
This approach has been approved by UNCED and the Copenhagen Summit, both of which legitimate further
global integration via the free market. However, at Copenhagen many developing countries advocated
embedded liberalism rather than pure free market economics, as necessary to help meet the basic needs of
their people and ensure political stability. Critical alternatives view of development have been effectively neutralized by the formal incorporation of their
language and concerns into the orthodox view. Nevertheless, the process of incorporation has resulted in some
small positive changes in the implementation of orthodox view, for example by the World Bank.
Nevertheless, despite semantic changes, fundamental questions remain the sustainability of the dominant
model of development.
In recent decades global food production has burgeoned, but paradoxically hunger and malnourishment remain
The orthodox explanation for the continued existence of hunger focuses on lack of access or entitlement to
available food. Access and entitlement are affected by factors such as North/South global divide; particular
national policies; rural/urban divides; class; gender; and race.
Globalization can simultaneously contribute to increased food production and increased hunger: the South
produces over 40% of the world’s food, but the majority of hungry people live in South. Hunger in the South is
not being reduced, because self-sufficiency is being replaced by cash-drop production for agribusiness, which
are now a powerful force in global politics.
Environment – Article: Environment
The environment has assumed an important and rising status on the national political agendas of states in
Africa, Latin America, and Asia.
Yet the status of the environment as an issue on developing country agendas is not secure. It is often subject to
displacement by issues which assume a greater priority for most countries.
We can observe a process of continuity and change, in which environmental challenges are handled within
existing national policy frameworks but where globalization has changed the relationship between environment
There is now a wide range of global environmental agreements which developing countries have signed and are
in the process of implementing
Through development issues have gained a higher profile in global environmental summits and agreements,
there is still some concern that Northern countries control the agenda
Countries’ positions on these issues do not fall neatly along North-South lines, however, and key differences
exist between developing countries on many high-profile global environmental issues.
There has been a move towards mainstreaming environmental concerns into the lending practices of
multilateral development agencies and into poverty reduction strategies.
The status of environmental issues on the national policy agendas of many developing countries is not secure
and remains subject of displacement by other pressing development concerns.
This is in spite of the fact that most d