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Beyond innovation for competitiveness and commercial growth

The desirability of continued economic growth is contested and differs geographically. More important is the composition of growth, its environmental impacts and the distribution of its benefits, costs and risks. Conventional notions of competitiveness also neglect these considerations and draw attention away from vital poverty alleviation and sustainability goals.

Resources on this CD

  1. 2009 STEPS Symposium report - Audience members raised the point “Whilst a key challenge for global sustainability is for the north to stop 'growth', there are certain parts of the world where growth is vital.”
  2. Sri Lanka roundtable report - Participants “started by pointing out that while the term ‘development’ is often equated with economic growth, it means far more than this.”
  3. ACTS roundtable, Nairobi, Kenya: reportage on Science and Technology group. Jasper Kirika (African Academy of Sciences) stressed economic growth and competitiveness as key objectives for science and technology, along with social welfare, product diversity and environmental sustainability.
    The first one is of course wealth creation and economic growth. Whatever we do in science and technology it’s geared towards wealth creation… the next key objective is to increase international competitiveness.”

  4. Cali roundtable, Colombia: In relation to the efforts of a Regional Commission on Competitiveness, which identified ‘world class sectors’ to be pursued in the region, and in the context of a discussion on linking needs to demands for science, technology and innovation, the question arose: “‘Competitiveness for what?’ It should be for the wellbeing of all.”
  5. The race to the top in the global economy” in Leach, M. and Scoones, I. (2006) “The Slow Race”, DEMOS

Additional online resources

(Internet connection required)
  1. Models of Doom: A Critique of the Limits to Growth, New York, Universe Books). “Some types of growth are quite consistent not merely with conservation of the environment, but with its enhancement. The problem, in our view, is a socio-political one of stimulating this type of growth and of more equitable distribution, both between countries and within them.” Chris Freeman, page 10 of Models of Doom by Cole, H. S. D., Freeman, C., Jahoda, M. & Pavitt, K. L. R. (Eds)(1973)
  2. Prosperity without Growth? The Transition to a Sustainable Economy”, UK Sustainable Development Commission, 2009
  3. World Development Report 2006: Equity and Development
  4. The UN Green Economy Initiative focuses on reconfiguring businesses and infrastructure to deliver better returns on natural, human and economic capital investments, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, extracting and using fewer natural resources, creating less waste and reducing social disparities.
  5. The Introduction to The Least Developed Countries Report 2007 (UNCTAD), which details with economic growth and poverty reduction in LDCs, states that “creative technological innovation also occurs when products and processes that are new to a country or to an individual enterprise are commercially introduced, whether or not they are new to the world.”(Full report)
  6. The Open University Asian Drivers Programme: “Since 1979, China has grown at an average rate of more than 9 percent p.a. India has grown at a similar pace since the early 1990s. The OECD estimates that China is likely to become the second biggest economy in the world by 2016, and India the third largest by 2035.”

We welcome examples of innovation for development. Email us at [email protected]