Ryszard Kapuscinski’s works addressed leading development issues of the 1970s, 1980s, and (arguably to a lesser extent) the 1990s. Have the world’s development challenges changed since then? What was the biggest challenge then and what is it now?

In my opinion, inequality has always been a challenge. But in these days, the gap is getting wider when it should be closing up. As the world population grows uncontrolled (in most cases), we have inadequate political will and resources to match the growth.

Some people dismiss sustainable development as an aspirational vision, others an unattainable fantasy, and still others absolutely necessary to our future. In this age where few seem interested in working for the collective good of all, what’s your argument to convince others that it is necessary to change the way we develop?

Sustainable development is achievable if we all see our interconnectedness. Until the basic needs of everyone are met, we cannot achieve sustainable development. And the best of us will continue to bear the burdens of the unmet needs and the undermined rights of others, including in terms of safety and security. We all have the joint responsibility to make it happen. We are stronger together!

What is the biggest challenge/hindrance to successful development?

Inequality is the greatest challenge I see. The world is so much divided along our ‘differences’ – gender, race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, displacement. Individuals are discriminated against because they do not possess some assets, features or qualities that are considered the ‘norms’. If we can work together to ensure that the ‘least’ of us has access to the basic services and can enjoy all the benefits and rights that are available to others, we can make it a better world for all.

What area of development or Global Goal do you think sustainable development hinges on? Which one is at the core of all the others?

Poverty reduction. When we achieve this, we can more effectively achieve all the other development goals.

What’s the most striking thing you have personally witnessed in relation to development? i.e. a challenge, opportunity or just personal observation about a human story.

When you support or empower an individual to grow and be independent, you are not only doing it for that person. S/he is no longer a liability to others. The individual is also able to empower thousands more, who can in turn support millions. The outcome is exponential! Therefore, everyone benefits when an individual is empowered – the household, the community, the nation and the world at large.


Organized in partnership with: