Converging Divergence? Unpacking the New Geography of 21st Century Global Development

Global Development Institute Working Paper No 2017-010

52 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2018

See all articles by Rory Horner

Rory Horner

Global Development Institute, University of Manchester; Department of Geography, Environmental Management and Energy Studies, University of Johannesburg

David Hulme

University of Manchester - Institute for Development Policy and Management (IDPM)

Date Written: February 20, 2017

Abstract

Building on a body of research on the “what” and “how” of post-2015 development, and motivated by the significant spatial shift to having a universal frame of reference in the Sustainable Development Goals, this article considers the “where” of contemporary development. The shifting geographies of economic, human and environmental aspects of development are charted. Some converging trends between the Global North and South render untenable the framing of international development as a 19th and 20th century world of “divergence big time”. Yet, some degree of global convergence does not adequately capture a world where development inequalities are profound. Instead, while the over-arching binary framing of development is blurring, such a trend is overlain by growing divergence at smaller spatial scales – especially within nations. “Converging divergence” characterises the new geography of 21st century global development, moving beyond overly optimistic claims of global convergence, but also beyond pessimistic accounts of the perpetuation of old development divides. The implications of “converging divergence” are explored and it is concluded that 21st century global development involves and must address a very different geography from that of 20th century international development.

Keywords: international development, global development, inequality, geography, post-2015

Suggested Citation

Horner, Rory and Hulme, David, Converging Divergence? Unpacking the New Geography of 21st Century Global Development (February 20, 2017). Global Development Institute Working Paper No 2017-010, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3144281 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3144281

Rory Horner (Contact Author)

Global Development Institute, University of Manchester ( email )

Oxford Road
Manchester, M13 9PL
United Kingdom

Department of Geography, Environmental Management and Energy Studies, University of Johannesburg ( email )

PO Box 524
Auckland Park
Johannesburg, Gauteng 2006
South Africa

David Hulme

University of Manchester - Institute for Development Policy and Management (IDPM) ( email )

Manchester M13 9GH
United Kingdom

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