It’s more than just building roads, says Thomson
DEVELOPMENT should be about more than building roads or buying air conditioners, the President of the UN General Assembly, Peter Thomson, told IPS in a recent interview. Thomson, who started his career working as “a rural development man in Fiji”, says he had become disillusioned with development before the Sustainable Development Goals came along. After studying development studies at Cambridge, Thomson returned to Fiji where he spent much of the 1970s working in villages for the Fiji government: “digging pit latrines and building sea walls.” However, he began to feel disillusioned by development when he saw that it ultimately led to communities breaking up. Young people would leave to sell produce at the markets on newly constructed roads, and then eventually would stop coming back.
“I got quite disillusioned with this whole idea of this is what humanity is set on: growth (where) every government had to produce growth and every government had to put in roads.” “It just seemed we were covering all our best agricultural land with urban sprawl.” However, Thomson believes that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – which UN member states have agreed to implement between 2016 and 2030 – represent a different paradigm, as, for example, shown in goal 12 – which promotes responsible consumption and production.
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