Entering the 21st Century: World Development Report 1999/2000

Entering the 21st Century: World Development Report 1999/2000

Localization—the growing economic and political power of cities, provinces, and other sub-national entities—will be one of the most important new trends in the 21st century. Together with accelerating globalization of the world economy, localization could revolutionize prospects for human development or it could lead to chaos and increased human suffering.

Improved communications, transportation and falling trade barriers are not only making the world smaller they are also fueling the desire and providing the means for local communities to shape their own future. Faced with popular demands for greater self-determination, national governments from Africa to Latin America, and from Europe to South East Asia are devolving power to the local level—with mixed results.

The first half of the report focuses on three areas in which global cooperation is becoming ever more crucial: trade, financial flows, and environmental issues, such as bio-diversity and climate change. The second half considers three key aspects of localization: decentralization, cities as the engine of economic growth, and making cities livable.

Identifies 4 critical lessons from development experience:

    Macroeconomic stability is essential for achieving the growth needed for development
  • Growth does not trickle down, so therefore, development efforts must address human needs directly
  • No one policy will spur development; a comprehensive approach is needed.
  • Sustained development must be socially inclusive and flexible enough to adapt to changing circumstances.

Report includes a focus on issues of urban growth and human welfare. Includes several detailed case studies of development issues in the 21st Century:

  • Making the most of trade liberalization (Egypt)
  • Reforming weak banking systems (Hungary)
  • Macromanagement under fiscal decentralization (Brazil)
  • Improving urban living conditions (Karachi, Pakistan): describes how government regulations set unrealistically high construction standards, thus putting "formal sector" housing beyond the reach of most people and fueling the growth of slums. Half of the city’s 11 million people live in sprawling, unplanned settlements, many of which lack proper roads, piped water, and sewer connections. The report outlines a strategy for addressing these problems, such as easing construction standards and focusing instead on providing land titles and basic infrastructure in these shanty town
  • Cultivating rural-urban synergies (Tanzania)

Argues that even in those countries with large numbers of people living in poverty, sound policies and effective institutions can do much to improve the quality of people’s lives. For example, in Nicaragua, India, and several other low income countries, nine out of 10 urban households have access to safe drinking water, while in Mozambique and Cambodia, where income levels are similar, the figure is reversed: only one in 10 urban households has access to clean drinking water. [author]

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