The Ukraine War Is Reshaping Development

HONG KONG – The global economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic was always fragile, especially in the developing world. With Russia’s disastrous war in Ukraine, it has been all but shattered. But the invasion’s immediate consequences are just the beginning. In a world yet again defined by great-power conflict, countries will have to rethink their approach to development.

There was a time when development economists focused primarily on growth. Rapid economic expansion, it was believed, was the key to delivering broad prosperity. But, in the 1980s, social inclusivity and the environment began to feature in the policy agenda, and have become increasingly prominent over the years.

Even before Russia invaded Ukraine – and even before the pandemic took hold – emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs) were struggling on all of these fronts. In March 2020, the World Bank estimated that inequality within EMDEs, and the gap between them and the advanced economies, had reached levels last seen a decade prior. Amid soaring poverty, catastrophic natural disasters, and intensifying civil strife, it should not be surprising that developing-country policymakers struggled to formulate climate policies that could fulfill international commitments.

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