Podcast 100 - New perspectives in global development agenda

17 Mar 2014

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UNDP Turkey: This is the New Horizons podcast of United Nations Development Programme Turkey. We are together with you for the 100th time for our 100th episode of New Horizons podcasts which we started to produce on January 2011. In this part we will talk about development challenges which the world will be affected after 2015 and we will talk about the priorities of the global development agenda. In a way, we will talk about the future of global development and our contributor is Dr. Güven Sak who is the Managing Director of Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV). Welcome.

Güven Sak: Hello.

UNDP Turkey: Our audience might know you from your column in Radikal newspaper and you are also a columnist in Hurriyet Daily News and Dünya newspaper.

Güven Sak: Yes, I write a lot these days.

UNDP Turkey: Indeed, you write a lot. Thank you very much for contributing to our programme. As this is the 100th programme, we wanted to look forward and aimed to understand the future of global development agenda. Hence, we invited you. Millennium Development Goals were agreed in 2000. There have been tremendous improvements in many countries. Now, we are talking about the post 2015 process as the development agenda set in 2000 was for 15 years. However, now, we have very different circumstances and development challenges than we had in 2000. The world has changed a lot since 2000. In your opinion, what are most important circumstances that have changed within these 15 years?

Güven Sak: When we look at the process of improvement itself, I think the most important determinant in this process is the technological advancement. I think we started to feel its influence much more sharply. Before, in the 80s, computer was like a device in itself. Now, as a technology with the help of internet, it is connecting us, our lives and in this way, it has the potential of changing the whole course of our lives and the way it is. Therefore, I think it is one of the important factors. We now can follow immediately what people in any part of the world think about a certain subject and how they evaluate it. I remember from my childhood and from my college years that it was really hard to find out what people have thought or written especially about certain subjects. Now it is much easier. I think our communication with each other has increased. In addition, with the new opportunities this situation brings, the way that a firm is managed or a country is governed has started to change. In my opinion, our perspectives are going to change swiftly in the coming decades. How can we see this? As people can now easily follow what is happening in other countries, they evaluate their situation with a global perspective and this becomes the beginning point of increasing demands for more justice, freedom and rule of law.

UNDP Turkey: As interaction increases, it created a common platform and people now evaluate their development challenges with a global perspective. Now, when we look ahead in the next 15 years, until 2030, in your opinion, what will be the most important development challenge or challenges that needs and urgent solution?

Güven Sak: I can talk about a few. There is one that has not been resolved yet although it has been a problem in the past too. I think, especially in the growth process of countries like Turkey, women’s participation to social and economic life is our most important problem. As I am an economist, I am mostly preoccupied with the problems’ material side. I think the studies will be better for speeding up the development process. Of course the opportunities that it brings to societal change are unlimited, that is true too. However, only its contribution to economic development is extremely important. Hence, when we look at the past, when we look at what did we have when Millennium Development Goals were set; there have been many improvements since then. However, I think we should focus more on increasing the women’s participation to social and economic life, especially in societies like ours.  I think it is very important considering the region’s change. The secondary and tertiary issues are… As a result of this transformational process, in these technological advancements and increasing interaction, all regions of the world became a part of global economy, right? I think, 20th century was the era where China has been articulated to the world economy which is continuing successfully. As a result of this process, these Millennium Development Goals have been successful in a way. I do not know how much because of the United Nations but I think one of the important reasons is successful integration of China to the world economy. But, there are additional problems that this integration brings about. There is a need for infrastructure, increasing environmental problems, there are series of problems regarding nutrition and food prices as there are new problems increasing with this new integration process. And I think these are going to be important in the coming years.

UNDP Turkey: You have put the women issue at the top and together with it there are other topics. The consultations for post 2015 development agenda continues worldwide. Online surveys have done, consultations have done. I would like to point out the outstanding themes. Education opportunities, better education, better health services and employment were the first three themes that have prioritized most. You have also mentioned at the beginning. As a result of advanced computer technology and increasing integration, one of the featured themes is the demand for freedom. Freedom of expression is one of the targets that will be take part in post 2015 development agenda. How would you define the relationship between development and freedom of expression?

Güven Sak: I think, especially in these years, there is a direct relationship between the two. I do not say this only to say ‘Development means freedom’. I think freedom is also important for the development process itself because; let’s talk about a country like Turkey for instance. It comes a certain stage at its industrialization and after this, I think we need to dwell into a new development process which is based on innovation and on new tricks to old dogs. In order to do this, all you need to do is to be open to new innovations. We have a better chance to devise inventions only if we are as open as we can to everything that we have not been used to. Then, we can find out things that we did not see before and that can make our lives easier. All of these are factors that can speed up the development process. Before, the diverse were discussed; you know this is like a chicken and egg situation at the end. However, when you look at it, development was seen as a precondition for freedom. Now, I think that freedom is a precondition for this development and improvement process. The themes and targets that you have mentioned are becoming more and more important as the growth process based on this new technology gains more importance. Involving in the globalization process as prepared as it can is much related to a country’s set of equipment and improvement of this set. And this is primarily related to education and health. People who can create innovations should be much more educated. Hence, urbanization, living in a more decent environment is important because we are in an era where people are more tend to leave, if you cannot provide decent conditions for people who are more educated and who knows other parts of the world better now. In developed countries like USA, newly established firms are mostly founded by foreigners and in one third of these firms, there is a foreign partner. People who went there to study or to work. Countries that can harbor all these diversities will be successful in the coming years and will be involved as well equipped in the globalization process. The ones that can improve their skills set will be successful. We do not seem successful yet. We should improve.

UNDP Turkey: We are on our 100th episode and our contributor is Güven Sak from TEPAV who is the Managing Director of TEPAV. You can learn more about what TEPAV does from tepav.org.tr. Those who want to contribute to this debate can share their opinions from #yeniufuklar hashtag on Twitter. There is another topic that I would like to ask your brief opinion on. The theme of inequalities. In previous days, UNDP has published a report called ‘Humanity Divided: Confronting Inequality in Developing Countries’. The richest one percent of the world population owns about 40 percent of the world’s assets, while the bottom half owns no more than one percent. Oxfam which is an international development agency had also published a report on the same topic and during World Economic Forum 2014, inequalities were one of the most important discussion themes. How do you evaluate the situation that the world is in right now with regards to increasing inequalities?

Güven Sak: I think we should look at the situation in this way. I think the approach to this issue was different before and after the global crisis in the central countries emerged. In other words, today for instance, you can find studies in IMF’s website on who to eliminate the inequalities, how to implement policies that can redistribute the income in order to eliminate these inequalities and why these policies will not badly affect the economic activities. These cannot be thought of five years or ten years ago. Hence we should look at the situation in this way: This inequalities problem gains more and more importance as a factor which hinders the development. If we are living in a world where people’s skills set are important, I think the precondition for people to focus on this own work is to live and work in peace. Provision of this peaceful environment cannot be done with military measures but can be done with eliminating these inequalities in the society. Hence, if we want people to better focus on and do their work that they equipped to, which we want, this is the main factor that can operate the development process. If we want people to focus on their intellectual skills, then we should find a way to eliminate these inequalities. In the past, we asked to people in Latin America, we asked how you are living in a country where there is stability and they told us: ‘We have houses with higher walls and we went to the highway with a car. There were guards with machine guns who protect us.’ I think, living in such a society means wasting one’s creative energy and at the same time you need to focus on other issues as there is no peace.

UNDP Turkey: We are talking about solving the social division. At the same time, as we eliminate the inequalities, societies are becoming older. Ageing is a natural result of development. Population dynamics is also an important theme in post 2015 development agenda. When we look into our notes, in 2030, people who are above 60 years old will be more than children who are under 10 years old and 73 per cent of world’s ageing population will be living in developing countries. What these data mean considering the world’s economic and social condition? This is our last question.

Güven Sak: These data show us that some countries will be growing at a slower pace in the coming years. However, we should look at these as dynamic processes. For instance, I think that these data shows that we are going to be mixed much more. People coming from different countries, nations will be much more mixed. This is the natural result, firstly. Secondly...

UNDP Turkey: You are talking about a brain drain in the employment force.

Güven Sak: Indeed. One should not look into this statically. This aging population will not be old people like out mother and fathers most probably. They will be better nourished and healthier. They will be working more. But secondly, they will be more mixed. Hence, in the coming years, young people with skills need to take part in these societies. What does this mean? This means that in the new development goals, the themes that you have mentioned should be taken into account more seriously by the whole world. The young people should be better educated and should have better skills. At the end what are they going to do? For instance, Japanese economy, we say that this will happen in the future but Japanese are like this right now. Sales for diapers for children are much less then the diapers for adults in Japan. Hence, it is already happening there. People there will run the Japanese economy. People coming from outside of Japan with their skills sets, it will also be Japanese concern to provide these skills sets to the people. Hence, I do not think things will get worse. I am an optimist person.

UNDP Turkey:  We have ended with a very good message. Güven Sak, thank you very much for joining our programme.

Güven Sak: Thank you.

UNDP Turkey: In the 100th episode of New Horizons, we have talked about the future of global development agenda and our contributor was Dr. Güven Sak from TEPAV. We have come to the end of 100th episode of New Horizons podcasts prepared by UNDP in Turkey. This program has been recorded at the studio of Radyo İlef of Ankara University Communications Department. You can follow our program on iTunes, Audioboo and Soundcloud in podcast format, on FM frequency in İstanbul, on Açık Radyo (Open Radio) on internet, on nearly fifty Police radios, on MYCY radio from Cyprus and also on university radios in our broadcasting network and on tr.undp.org. Our user name for social media is undpturkiye. Hope to see you soon, good bye!

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In this part we talk about development challenges which the world will be affected after 2015 and also about the priorities of the global development agenda.

 

Contributor:

Dr. Güven Sak, Managing Director of Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV)

 

Read the transcript