In the year 2015, I began my first year of studying International Development at the University of Sussex. Since then, the developing world has seen vast changes. Whilst in my first year of studying, I had many unanswered questions about the future of the developing world. What will happen to the millions of refugees that fled wore torn Syria? Will Africa ever be independent of aid? Will conflict, climate change and exploitation continue the cycle of development fatigue? I wondered; what will the world look like in 2045? In this blog post I will reflect on some of the changes that have occurred in the past 30 years, and consider what the future holds for the next 30 years to come.
Fifteen years have passed since The Sustainable Development Goals of 2015 reached their expiration date, with 2030 seeing a set of new goals put in place. Many strides have been made across all 17 goals, including poverty reduction, increased access to healthcare and education, and reduced gender inequalities. In particular, the goal which set out the aim to ‘achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’ has had particular success. In the year 2014, statistics showed that in Niger, “77 per cent of women aged 20 to 49 were married before age 18” (UNICEF, 2014). However, over the past 30 years, the practice of child marriage has declined significantly. Now, 1 in 10 young women alive today were married in childhood, compared to 1 in 4 young women alive in 2014 (UNICEF, 2014). Looking back on my studies in 2015, I can see that ‘the girl effect’ really is creating change.
Regrettably, not all development issues have seen the same positive advancements. Now in 2045, I should be proud to say that the UK has maintained its commitment “to spending 0.7% of national income on aid” (Barder, 2015). However, very little progress has been made since I wrote a blog on African aid in 2015. Statistics show that now, in 2045, “some 550 million people are still living on less than $1.25 a day, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa” (Greenhill et al, 2015). Therefore, I still dare to question; Should Africa be an agent of its own progress?
Moving away from the SDGs, one of the most prominent issues which I studied in 2015 was the refugee crisis. The crisis resulted from the war in Syria and other violent outbreaks, and saw around one million refugee arrivals by land or sea in 2015 alone. The UK eventually agreed to take part in the refugee quota scheme, and over the course of the war with ISIS, ended up taking around 35,000 Syrian refugees. Now, in 2045, with the war having ended over 20 years ago, Syria is making steady progress on the path to recovery. Millions of refugees have returned home in the prospect of rebuilding their lives, and helping to restore Syria’s rich history and diverse culture that it was once known for.
Looking further into the future, I would like to see a world which is no longer in the cycle of ‘Sustainable Development Goals’. I would like to see a world where Africa is free from aid. I would like to see a world where civilians don’t have to flee from their home country in fear of war. It is hard to imagine in a world like today that this will ever be possible, however, “it’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting” (Coelho, 1994, p.11).
Barder, O. (2015) Is The UK Putting Its Own Interests Ahead Of The Poor In Its New Aid Strategy? (Online) Available from: www.cgdev.org/blog/uk-putting-its-own-interests-ahead-poor-its-new-aid-strategy
BBC News. (2015) Migrant crisis: Migration to Europe explained in graphics. (Online) Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34131911
BBC News. (2015) Migrant crisis: Opponents furious over new EU quotas. (Online) Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34331126
Bunting, M. (2011) What will aid look like in 2031? The Guardian (Online) 23rd March. http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/mar/23/future-of-development-sector
Loader, D., McGraw, A. and Mason, M., 2007. Jousting for the new generation: Challenges to contemporary schooling. Aust Council for Ed Research.
ODI (2015) Financing the future: how international public finance should fund a global social compact to eradicate poverty. (Online) Available from: http://www.odi.org/publications/9462-financing-future-international-public-finance-should-fund-global-social-compact-eradicate-poverty
Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform (2015). Sustainable Development Goals. (Online) Available from: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs
Ending Child Marriage (2014). Progress and prospects. (Online) Available from: http://www.unicef.org/media/files/Child_Marriage_Report_7_17_LR..pdf