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Political Will and Sustainable Development Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Stephen N. Asek, Cameroon Jul 26, 2006
Human Rights , Sustainable Development   Opinions
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It is weird how one can be given power but
still has the inertia to wield it
Political will remains a particular challenge for
developing countries today. Though often invoked as a
concept, political will refers to the desire and
determination of political actors to introduce as well
as embark on reforms that will bring significant and
persistent changes in the society. It is difficult if
not impossible to divorce political will from
sustainable development.
The Brunt Land Commission in its 1987 report
“Our Common Future” defined sustainable development as
“development that meets the needs of the present
without compromising the ability of future generations
to meet their needs”. Political will is the steering that
is needed to turn the wheels of developmental reforms
that do not only meet present needs but also secure
the capacity of future generations to meet their own
Political will in developing countries rest in
the hands of the government and ruling political
parties. As a result therefore, a lot of incentives
have been offered by international organisations to
tilt political commitment in the direction of
realising both the present and future needs of
developing countries. However the political commitment
of most governments today still hovers around the same mantra-exploit
the little you have today for the brief time you have
it, because that is the only way you can feed your
self and your family today. Tomorrow, the next
generation must look after
Sustainable development cannot survive on this
concept. Even with all the necessary economic
assistance, sustainable development will be a charade
if political actors continue to operate on this
paradigm of development.
For example, a political leader who wields
great power may decide to construct a hospital in
region “X” and instead of making the people understand
that it is his duty to do so, he makes it seem like a favour, and even when he
completes the “favour project”, its durability is only
short lived. He does not bear it in mind that the
people concerned pay their taxes and other revenue
owed to the government for it to be able to carry out
meaningful and sustainable projects. The development
of civilized societies should not be perceived as a
favour from their home government. It is an obligation,
which is an expression of the deep-rooted love for
the homeland and they that live therein. If power
wielders do not make an effort to change the conception
of development in their societies, they will be
contributing in slowing down the efforts of
sustainable development. Political will is the central
energy that can encourage meaningful development in
developing countries. Therefore investment in
political will should be of major concern to
industrializing societies today.
Developing countries face obstacles to development not
necessarily because they lack the resources for
development but because the orientation of political
will is not habituated towards sustainable development
for all, irrespective of region, culture and political
attachment. This is to say that most of the
development projects undertaking by governments and
other civil actors are not sustainable. Things are
done to temporarily satisfy specific groups and
Political will that centers on nationwide
sustainable development is genuine and does not cater solely to a particular regional, cultural, religious or linguistic interests.
Politicians and policy makers have to
understand that every decision they make has systemic
repercussion. There will always be consequences,
negative ones of course, when policies are made to
disadvantage other minorities in the society. But the
truth stands till this day that; whatever a political
actor sows in the fields of developing countries
he/she hall reap it when it has fully matured.
Developing societies, particularly within Africa, can benefit from a change in attitudes - what Africa needs for its development are true sons and daughters:
people who see themselves as Africa itself and not as
passive citizens of Africa. The hopes of the continent are not the loans
and debt cancellation schemes of Advanced Nations that the leaders are scrambling for. Africa’s hope is
that someday Africans will harness their God given
material and human resources with all sincerity and
like-mindedness for a glorious development of each
component that makes up Africa.
Sensible, collective and judicious use of what
we have from within the continent and the Diasporas
will restore hope to the African population. We are
our own hope and future. Loans, even their
cancellation cannot solve our problems. Leaders simply
have to carry out projects that are sustainable. It is
hard for political actors to sow in that which is not
sustainable and reap that which is sustainable.
Have African governments ever asked themselves

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Writer Profile
Stephen N. Asek

Stephen Asek is a Cameroonian with a multicultural perspective in development, justice and social responsibility.
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