Grappling with the concept of inclusive growth

By Felipe F. Salvosa II, Publications Division Chief, Philippine Institute for Development Studies

Closing Plenary

Panel at the closing plenary of the Annual Global Development Conference ‘Concluding Rountable’

After three days, what has come out of the 14th Annual Global Development Conference is that inclusive growth remains the goal, but the scope is still very wide on how best to achieve it. The world’s top development researchers will continue to grapple with this critical question and how inclusivity should dovetail with inequality and social protection as they leave the host city Manila.

The closing roundtable was an occasion for the leadership of The Global Development Network (GDN), and indeed the rest of the delegates, to reflect on these very issues. Tasked to set things in perspective were L. Alan Winters, the GDN Chairman; GDN President Pierre Jacquet; and regional networks heads Randall Filer, Ahmed Galal, Mustafa K. Mujeri, Biman C. Prasad, Roberto Rigobon, Lemma Senbet, Pavlo Sheremeta, and Josef T. Yap.

Rigobon of the Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association notes that development research is the toughest area and the challenge is two-fold: to be sound and relevant. Economists are often preoccupied with running models and experiments that have no external validity when what is really needed is a commonsense approach.

So what issues emerges?

It is clear from discussions during the conference that solving inequality may not automatically entail solving development. Filer (Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education-Economic Institute (CERGE-EI) fires back at the audience claiming ; that they might be making normative judgments in their approach to inequality, and people might really be after relative rather than absolute inequalities. One way of approaching the problem of inequality is by engaging other disciplines such as sociology- highlighting the multidisciplinary nature of GDN. After all, inequality is a political economy question, notes Galal, director of the Economic Research Forum (ERF) and representative of Middle East and North Africa Regional Partner.

Randy Filer:  “How do we distinguish policies based on policies on love and charity from policies based on envy? How do we raise the bottom without handicapping the top?”

Outlook into Asia and the Pacific and beyond
Other global issues that need to be taken into consideration when looking at the problem of inequality, is climate change adaptation and addressing vulnerabilities. These allow Pacific island countries to deal more effectively with inclusivity and social protection- Prasad of the Oceania Development Network highlights. A key challenge for Southeast Asia, says Josef Yap of PIDS and the East Asia Development Network, is expanding the role of small and medium enterprises. SMEs need to latch on to regional production networks, which need to be consolidated to address spatial inequality.

Sheremeta makes an important point in saying that researchers need to connect to the youth, who will ultimately benefit in the future. One way is by taking advantage of social media. Clearly, more research is needed and Jaquet reminds the audience that the mission of GDN is to build research capacity and produce scientific research. GDN, which is a global network of networks, would do well to enhance global partnerships and harness synergies and complementarities among development researchers across the globe, especially the young.

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