Despite its widespread usage, the meaning of the term ‘development’ remains vague, tending to refer to a set of beliefs and assumptions about the nature of social progress rather than to anything more precise. After presenting a brief history of the term, the author argues that not only will development fail to address poverty or to narrow the gap between rich and poor, but in fact it both widens and deepens this division and ultimately creates poverty, as natural resources and human beings alike are increasingly harnessed to the pursuit of consumption and profit. The survival of the planet will depend upon abandoning the deep-rooted belief that economic growth can deliver social justice, the rational use of environment, or human well-being, and embracing the notion that there would be a better life for all if we moved beyond ‘development’.
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