The World Bank’s Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development Network (ESSD) hosted its annual ESSD and Learning Week from March 28 to April 8, 2005 at the World Bank headquarters in Washington, DC. The purpose of the conference was for ESSD staff to exchange knowledge and information, engage in dialogue and debate, and learn from peers, subject specialists and leading practitioners in the sustainable development field. The theme of this year’s conference was “Human Security in an Increasingly Fragile World.”
This session, from day three of ESSD Week, focused on culture and social development and comprised a keynote lecture by Arjun Appadurai, Provost and Senior Vice-President of Academic Affairs at the New School University in New York. Appadurai’s presentation, entitled “Culture and Development in a Globalizing World,” touched on some of the cultural components of development and poverty reduction. He noted that a cultural approach to viewing poverty reduction is to view aspiration as a “capacity,” one that is unequally distributed amongst rich and poor. Appadurai also discussed the growing literature on the cultural aspects of globalization, noting that culture is beginning to be recognized and brought into the dialogue on development policy.
The session was chaired by Anis Dani, Advisor for Social Policy for the World Bank’s Social Development Department. Scott Guggenheim, Lead Social Development Specialist for the World Bank’s Environment and Social Development Sector, and Vijayendra Rao, Lead Economist for the World Bank’s Development Research Group, served as discussants for the session.
The session ended with a question and answer period. Topics addressed included the role of democracy in social development, the “Clash of Civilizations” approach to cultural development popularized by Samuel Huntington, and ways to integrate social and cultural considerations into development planning.