Third World Centre for Water Management

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Sustainable Development: Some Unanswered Questions

At the down of the twenty-first century, any objective and in depth analysis of the total long-term impacts of the official development assistance will indicate that these have generally been at best marginal in terms of their impacts in alleviating poverty, improve the quality of life of billions of people, and maintain and/or improve the conditions of the natural environment and the ecosystems.

During the past three decades, the international system has consistently made numerous commitments and pledges which were expected to alleviate poverty very substantially, or even eradicate it completely. For example, at the World Food Conference, convened by the United Nations, in Rome, in 1974, senior decision-makers from all parts of the world, at the explicit recommendation of the Former Secretary of State of the United States, Henry Kissinger, made a pledge that within a decade no child anywhere in the world will go to bed hungry. More than a quarter of a century has elapsed since the world leaders and the United Nations made that commitment, but children continue to go to bed hungry, perhaps even in larger numbers. The situation continues to be as grim as ever. In some aspects, and in many parts of the world, the conditions have even deteriorated significantly.

Asit K. Biswas, Background Paper for the Workshop on ‘Reassessing Sustainable Development Paradigm in the Context of the Water Sector’, Alexandria, Egypt, 2002
Background Paper online

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