Nancy Birdsall is founding president of the Center for Global Development.
Nancy Birdsall on
I'd say the most important thing about this century, the twenty-first century, is that there is an uptick in the interdependence among people. What are the moral implications of that? I would say, particularly for people in the rich world, it increases people's responsibility to be aware of how what they do and what their policymakers do on a whole range of issues matters for a lot of people, millions and millions of people, who don't have much control.
I'd say two things concern me. One is that the progress, what I would call the huge successes of development, have left out still maybe half a billion people, maybe a billion people. We have a group of states that are called in the development community fragile states or failing states or weak states. The second thing that worries me is climate change.
I think if there is something that is a global ethic for me, it does have to do with, in effect, the greater proximity across people quite independent of the country they live in. Therefore, the greater responsibility, if you are at the top of the income distribution in the world, which is basically the reality for most people in the United States, most people in Europe, to at least be aware of how what they do and don't do affects people elsewhere.
The world is so much more peaceful today than 100 years ago or 1,000 years ago. I think we're really close. It's a worthy goal.
It's not going to be necessarily the traditional kind, in political space. It's going to be in social space, in corporate space. It's going to be about innovation and adaptation in a more rapidly changing environment.
It certainly has to do with having a range of choice, having reasonably good access to the kinds of opportunities that provide for a dignified life for participation in politics if you want, that make you feel that you can hold your own government accountable.