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Doing development in a downturn

Written by Simon Maxwell

2008 has been heralded as a milestone year for the Millennium Development Goals. But political support for the MDGs is in danger of erosion and new messages are needed to maintain momentum. Simon Maxwell argues for two approaches: first, demonstrating that aid actually works and, second, linking the development story to the concerns of voters, proving that their interests, and the interests of those in developing countries, are linked. Common decency extends beyond national boundaries, but opinion polls show that support for international development is broad but shallow – vulnerable to how people feel about prospects at home. New messages need to shift the conversation from ‘them’ to ‘us’, creating a vision in which social justice and social inclusion can only be reached at home if also reached internationally. Development is in everyone’s interest.