Community Development – is there anything new to say?

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    Community DevelopmentCommunity development is a way of strengthening civil society by prioritising the actions of communities and their perspectives in the development of social, economic and environmental policy. It seeks the empowerment of local communities, geographical communities, communities of interest or identity and communities organising around specific themes or policy initiatives. It strengthens the capacity of people as active citizens through their community groups, organisations and networks; and the capacity of institutions and agencies (public, private and non-governmental) to work in dialogue with citizens to shape and determine change in their communities. It plays a crucial role in supporting active democratic life by promoting the autonomous voice of disadvantaged and vulnerable communities. It has a set of core values/social principles covering human rights, social inclusion, equality and respect for diversity; and a specific skills and knowledge base.

    Good community development is the action that helps people to recognise and develop their ability and potential and organise themselves to respond to problems and needs which they share.  It supports the establishment of strong communities that control and use assets to promote social justice and help improve the quality of community life.  It also enables community and public agencies to work together to improve the quality of government.

    Keeping the faith of inclusion in community development

    It is striking that community development still holds the tension between top-down policy processes and bottom-up democratic engagement. And it is community development that still keeps the faith that it is necessary and possible to include people living in poverty and marginalization in researching, discussing, prioritizing, monitoring and evaluating development initiatives that impact on their lives.

    There are continued challenges, and there was consistent emphasis on the need for community development to have a critical dimension– and for the need to deepen this through us.

    Community development and the SDGs: a continuing global conversation?

    Community development can be accused of parochialism, and accounts of community practices no more than an array of colourful descriptions of disparate local processes. Nowadays this is challenged, about the contribution of community development in a world of increasing inequalities, within and between countries. Researchers and scholars have identified the relevance of community development in the coming era of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

    But the challenge is how to build participation into the implementation and monitoring of the SDGs. This is an agenda for community development practitioners in every country, and there is an ever-increasing need for a global community development forum in which critical approaches can be shared and debated, and international links and solidarities can be built.  Let’s hope that we can build on this and make this forum accessible and useful into the future.

    India and the MDGs: Towards a Sustainable Future for All

    The new sustainable development agenda seeks to ensure that the momentum generated by the millennium development goals is carried forward  — to achieve not just substantial reductions in poverty, hunger and other deprivations but finally end them to provide a life of dignity to all. At this crucial juncture, the responsibility of steering development in India has been passed on to a new Government. It is now an opportune moment to take stock of the achievement of the MDGs in India and lessons learned that can be incorporated into the design and implementation of the sustainable development goals to build upon the unfinished MDG agenda.
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