A Biocultural Approach to Development

New article by Jamie Alissa Beck on Terralingua’s Biocultural Diversity Conservation Blog.

It is a natural assumption that international development programs lead to direct improvements in lives around the world.  Decreasing rates of under-five mortality from malaria?  Absolutely.  Improving lives in the wake of unimaginable destruction from natural disasters?  Without question.  It was under these obvious assumptions that I worked for years on various development programs as part of a large government agency.  However, I quickly realized that this dominant model of development – one that often takes a Western approach to what progress looks like and applies it to people in all parts of the world regardless of their own values – does not fare so well in empowering cultures, languages or local solutions. With time I saw clearly that in addition to building health clinics, schools, and green revolutions, I was in some cases unknowingly contributing to the creation of a Western monoculture and the destruction of beautifully diverse cultures and languages that hold immeasurable value.

What I learned and experienced through that work led me to believe that deep and fundamental change is needed to this Western led and strictly structured development paradigm.  Along with many others, I now call for a new approach to international development that breaks with Western tradition to embrace local tradition: one that empowers local people to drive their own progress; one in which diverse approaches, practices and ideas are heard, embraced and celebrated.

Read full article via Biocultural Diversity Conservation–>

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