Development and Conflict

Olympio Barbanti

Faculty in the Department of International Relations at the Pontificia Universidade Catolica de Minas Gerais, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

A: The problem is, how to use the natural resources of the Brazilian Amazon in a sustainable way, which includes economic efficiency, social equality, environmental management, political democracy, and cultural respect.

...In the beginning people were not talking about sustainable development, just development.

...Despite the fact that this approach of doing development carries all these dimensions, in the beginning people were looking at development as a transfer of how to deal with hard issues. Hard issues are related to those of infrastructure and economic dimensions of development.

...So more tangible things to promote development like building roads, airports and economic institutions that will provide the basis for development.

...Until very recently economists would believe that all that was needed was major hard inputs for development because these would lead to better economic performance. Better economic performance would then bring together all the factors of development like equality, political democracy, cultural respect, and sustainable use of natural resources. In the sense that in order to achieve economic efficiency natural resources would have to be used in such a way that they are not destroyed.

...Along the years it has changed a lot.

...My work and the work of these other organizations has changed so that we are looking more at soft approaches to development as a counter approach to hard development. The softer approach means trying to integrate more known tangible dimensions of development into those hard approaches.

Q: What would be an example of a soft approach?

A: A soft approach is if you build infrastructure, for example, and it changed social conditions and has deep cultural influences that must be looked after. These things must be assessed before implementation takes place. So people talk in terms of social and cultural impact assessment, needs assessment.

...These assessments have to do with the fact that there are human beings involved. And this is probably one of the major changes in development thinking.