by Lauren Brooke Karanovich
On Wednesday, November 19, international development experts John Meyers and Linda Fitzgerald led an interactive discussion on the latest trends in international development. Nineteen people were in attendance at this roundtable luncheon and discussion, each participating actively in the conversation.
John Meyers is the Managing Director of Swisscontact North America
Linda Fitzgerald is the Executive Director of the Peru Opportunity Fund
John Meyers began the discussion with a few facts concerning global poverty and the Millennium Development Goals. According to Meyers’ statistics,
- There are 1 billion people in the world living on only $1.25 per day.
- It is estimated that by 2050 the world’s population will have increased to 9 billion people.
- In international development, we have to take a look at the role of good governance.
- In 2014, 50% of the world’s population live in urban centers, equalling a large rise in urban living.
Despite these positive global trends towards the reduction of poverty and increases in access to clean water and access to education, there is still much to be done.
To learn more about the UN Millennium Development Goals, click here.
Millennium Development Goals
In September of 2010, world leaders came together with the UN to develop a set of goals to be achieved by 2015, known as the Millennium Development Goals. These goals range from a reduction in extreme poverty to a halt in the spread of HIV/AIDS and the provision of universal education. As we approach 2015, the deadline set in 2010 for the UN Millennium Development Goals looms nearer. Much has been done to address the eight goals, but there is still a long way to go to achieve fully.
Although there is a decrease in the level of global poverty, Meyers pointed out that we need to take into account the role of “middle-income countries” that still have pockets of poverty. Migration is an issue that contributes to the pockets of poverty.
Migration is an important topic in today’s globalized world. Populations are more mobile than ever. Meyers pointed out that it needs to be noted that immigrants are entrepreneurs on another level — these people take it upon themselves to relocate their entire lives for better opportunities and economic prospects.
There has been a change in the way “development aid” works. People are seen as actors in their own future, not recipients of handouts. This paradigm shift all started with the trend of micro-finance 30 years ago.
Development aid is no longer just throwing money at the issue. There is a rise in “impact investing.” Impact investing is the proactive act of investing in companies that help people. This provides a shared value for both parties – everybody gains.
One audience member asked a question that opened up this crucial discussion on investment:
How do we teach to reinvest?
Fitzgerald stressed that the prevailing narrative of micro loans – the idea of one lone woman who after receiving a micro loan and becoming an overnight success story – is patently untrue.
Instead, according to Fitzgerald, there is a path that these investments take. It starts with an impact investment, helping on a very small-scale, which can lead to a better business, which can lead to a possible business association, which can lead to so much more success down the road. There is the ever-present metaphor of give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for the rest of his life.
Different methods of investment are creating a path for more success in international development. Other trends include public-private partnerships, social enterprises, and the new idea of benefit corporations.
The model of international development is ever-changing, yet Meyers and Fitzgerald did a wonderful job of bringing their global experiences to Connecticut and fostering meaningful discussion on what people can do and how they can make an impact.