Sustainable Development Requires Participation by all – IDB Official


Sustainable development in its most basic form is inconceivable without the participation of all people, Keith Evans, Representative for the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in Jamaica, has emphasised.
Speaking at a press briefing at IDB headquarters in Kingston recently, the IDB official said the importance of participation became obvious from as far back as 1987, when the IDB held its first consultative meeting on the environment.
It was then that the IDB became acutely aware of the fundamental role played by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community based organizations (CBOs) in increasing public awareness and, in promoting community participation in matters related to environmental protection and natural resource conservation, among other areas.
Against this background, the theme for the fourth consultative meeting on the environment, which was held in Barbados in 1994, focused on the participation of civil society.
It was out of this meeting that the Barbados Programme of Action emerged, outlining 14 priority areas for sustainable development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) – climate change and sea level rise, land resources, tourism, human resource development, science and technology, management of wastes, freshwater resources and management of wastes, among others.
“Back then, we [IDB] were a part of an emerging collective realization among international development agencies that, the conventional approach to the execution of our respective mandates to promote socio-economic development, which focused on the rapid transfer from the top of technical, financial and structural solutions, had not produced the desired results,” Mr. Evans explained.
There was therefore a need to move away from a “mechanistic approach”, to more “participatory processes” that integrated the social, cultural, ethical and environmental dimensions of development, he added.
This realization spawned the creation of Civil Society Advisory Committees in the IDB-borrowing member countries. The primary functions of these committees are to input local knowledge and experience, coupled with expertise, into the formulation of bank policy and strategy as well as the design and execution of the bank’s programmes, to ensure that all areas are “fuelled by equal doses of relevance and realism”.
Mr. Evans also noted that the IDB was prepared to work alone with civil society in the sustainable development process. However, the bank welcomed the participation of the government. “There is indication that the Jamaican government has bought into the process,” he said, listing the feasibility study to find alternative sources of energy as an example of such co-operation.
On hand at the press briefing was David Smith, Specialist in Environment/Energy attached to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
He explained that both the IDB and the UNDP were seeking solutions to the problems inhibiting the sustainable development process and were developing ways of working together across sectors, which often had difficulties and were traditionally reluctant to work with each other.

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