Sustainable Development Never Ends

A comparison of the videos about Copenhagen and Nairobi highlights two facts about sustainability: that sustainability does not refer solely to environmental health and that sustainability is dynamic. The FreeThink video shows the process behind Copenhagen’s impressive act of reducing carbon emissions while growing in population size. It portrays how the collaborative efforts between private sector companies, local government and citizens can have amazing results regarding the sustainable development goals. It also proves that “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Similarly, the World Bank video tells the story of the Nairobi Sanitation Project, detailing how connections between international organizations, local financial institutions and community leaders led to accessible clean water and sanitation in the settlement. The parallels between the two projects are obvious, as each showcase that interdependence is a necessary component in effective and sustainable change. While the statistics regarding Copenhagen’s carbon footprint are impressive, it is important to keep in mind Danish people’s positionality, as they are privileged with the ability to invest time, money and resources to tackle climate issues. Therefore socio-economic disparities between the two cities cannot be ignored.

Despite the success of the Nairobi Sanitation Project, the hurdles the community had to jump to reach that success are indicative of the hegemonic global norms that keep people in poverty worldwide. The World Bank video was made to show the great work that the organization does in order to fight poverty. However, I found the “output based aid” subsidy problematic. If the bank had decided not to provide the $6M loan, then that community would still be facing health and water access problems. I understand that this is a way to combat possible corruption, however, asking a community where $12 a day is the normal pay for skilled labor to raise $6M dollars is strange. Also important to keep in mind is that while clean sanitation and water access is only a part of what is needed to end poverty in this community, ┬áthat relatively small change made a very significant difference in the livelihoods of the community.

1 Comment

  1. Nedra Sandiford

    June 22, 2020 at 7:17 am

    Despite the success of the Nairobi Sanitation Project, the hurdles the community had to jump to reach that success are indicative of the hegemonic global norms that keep people in poverty worldwide…

    This is an EXCELLENT point. While the World Bank does great work, it still does so within the confines of the very capitalistic structure that, as you said, reinforce norms that keep people in poverty.

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