“Often, governments, companies or development banks declare that big projects (such as roads, mines, hydropower dams, or modern buildings) are necessary for the development of the whole country. They often call these ‘development plans’ or ‘development projects’.
But are these projects always good for people and the environment? Who is actually benefiting and who should decide what kinds of projects and policies are best for the future of our communities and our countries? Who has the right to say if what is being proposed is ‘development’? What happens if you disagree with a proposed plan or project? And, how do you find alternatives that support the development you want?”
The Community Action Guide on What is Development? encourages communities to discover what development means for themselves, and to question whether proposed plans and activities truly fit within their definition of and priorities for development. This Guide seeks to support communities in claiming their right to development, and clearly identifies the obligation of governments and development finance institutions to facilitate the realization of communities’ aspirations for development. This Guide includes:
- Introduction to community-led development
- Accessible information on claiming the right to development, consultation and free, prior, informed consent
- Descriptions of current trends in development finance and their impact on communities
- Stories from communities that have been affected and those that have used peoples plans to propose alternatives to unwanted development
- Activities to support communities’ in defining development, assessing whether proposed projects and activities meet their definition of development… and more!
We hope this Guide will be useful for community members, organizers, and civil society representatives to facilitate discussions on the concept of development, with an emphasis on how community visions for development can be met and fulfilled by the actors in the development process.
IAP believes that by supporting communities to claim their right to development and articulate their visions, we can collectively challenge power imbalances and ensure that development is more inclusive, sustainable and centers the priorities of the people.
It takes a village to create and advocate for community-led development. IAP is thankful for the civil society partners and communities we have been honored to work with, and for sharing their advice, feedback, and tools with us. We hope this Guide will contribute to an ongoing struggle to create a world where development is designed and lived by the same people.