20 Jan 2014
An aerial view of the city of Sehwan Sharif in Pakistan's southern Sindh Province. Photo: UN/WFP/Amjad Jamal.
We are at a very important moment in modern history, an inflection point, meaning that things are going to be very different in the future than they have been in the past. First, the role that developing countries play in the world – in the economy, science, technology, politics, culture – is changing dramatically. Their importance and influence, which is rising rapidly already, will increase greatly.
Second, for the first time in human history, more people are living in cities and towns than in villages. The fastest rates of urbanization are in developing countries, specifically in Sub-Saharan Africa. Just think about how this changes our conventional view of where and how people live in the developing world.
Third, we have technologies now that are profoundly changing the way we work with each other, relate to each other, and make and sell things. And the boundaries of these technologies are shifting quickly.
So this is really an incredibly exciting time for development. But there are big dangers:
• Growth and development are not necessarily bringing benefits fairly to everybody, so tensions are rising – and sometimes boiling over – in a growing number of countries.
• Sometimes the changes taking place are so …