PROJECTS

Debating Matters Global Development Debates

Tuesday 7 February 2012, Unilever House, London

At a time of great anxiety and confusion about the future direction of the world, there are important debates to be had about how to improve our lives – from how to employ science and technology to best effect, to different models of economic growth. In the midst of economic turmoil for many countries, rapid growth for some and slow or even negative growth for others, the seventh billionth person joined the human population. Some have celebrated the scientific and social advances that have enabled the human race to thrive on its ingenuity and capacity for innovation, whilst others are concerned about the destructive aspects of humanity in relation to the depletion of natural resources and pollution that threatens the sustainability of existence as our population continues to grow.

Whilst economic growth in countries such as Brazil, India, China and Russia has brought a welcome improvement in living standard for many, and lifted millions out of poverty, the blight of poverty remains for billions, including those living side by side with individuals enjoying the fruits of a more middle class existence in developing countries. Whilst Western economies struggle with one of the most severe economic crises since the 1930s, it remains the case that living standards and life expectancy have improved immeasurably in that time. But which way now? Many have questioned the sustainability of the Western economic model, raising questions about short-termism, consumerism, a narrow pursuit of profit to please the markets, and the wisdom of measuring prosperity in terms of GDP. On the other hand, the drive for growth and the emphasis on innovation and renewal required to achieve it, deliver important benefits for human existence. The evidence and arguments are complex, contradictory and difficult – but surely need to be worked through and debated vigorously.

The Institute of Ideas and Unilever Debating Matters Global Development Debates will provide six schools with the opportunity to do just that.

Six teams from schools from London and the Home Counties will debate the following motions:

  • Supermarkets are bad for local communities

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  • Governments should stop supporting the biofuels industry

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  • Social media is rejuvenating political protest

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  • Population growth and rising living standards are unsustainable


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