Monday, May 07, 2007

The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done

Featured Speakers: Paul Collier

This past Monday, Paul Collier launched his book The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done. While he has written several books already, he started the launch by commenting that this was the first book he had written that he intended for people to read. On the subject of his book, there are many traps that the bottom billion fall into, one of them being conflict, and Collier’s research looks at how we can pull people out of these traps and lead on to a more balanced society.

Over the last seven years, policy on development has changed significantly. Collier commented that it has been “put on the streets”, though those on the street tend not to have the knowledge base of the technocrats. What his book aims to do is educate this population so that they can have informed opinions on policy without being formal members of the field.

Collier’s book redefines pieces of the aid structure for a more integrated view, emphasizing that global poverty is the result of a political compromise. Also, to pull these countries out of their “failed” state, institutions cannot solely focus on poverty. This is a poor diagnostic of their “failure” and must be only a small part of many diagnostics within a larger evaluative process.

One of the solutions that Collier offers for benefiting the “bottom billion” is helping resource-rich countries to recognize the resources that go unused and encourage spill-over to resource-deprived countries. Many of the countries that end up at the bottom of the chain in terms of resources are land-locked countries. This is particularly true of central and western Africa where there have recently been radical efforts to get countries to integrate their economies and work together. In other cases, many of the “bottom billion” do indeed have access to resources but need to build public sectors that harness those revenues. The state must be large and effective to create higher accountability.

Location & Sponsor: World Bank
Date: April 30, 2007
Time: 2:00-3:00pm
Approximate Number of Attendees: 60
Intern Attending: Elysa Severinghaus

No comments: