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Reflections on conspicuous sustainability: Creating Small Island Dependent States (SIDS) through Ostentatious Development Assistance (ODA)?

Grydehøj, A; Kelman, I; (2020) Reflections on conspicuous sustainability: Creating Small Island Dependent States (SIDS) through Ostentatious Development Assistance (ODA)? Geoforum , 116 pp. 90-97. 10.1016/j.geoforum.2020.08.004.

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Abstract

It is frequently noted that small islands, including Small Island Developing States (SIDS), receive hugely disproportionate levels of aid or official development assistance (ODA) relative to other states and territories. However, the precise relationship between 'islandness' and aid remains underexamined. This paper uses the concept of 'conspicuous sustainability' as a framework for understanding the propensity for aid to be directed toward small island territories. We argue (1) that aid donors have reasons for preferring engagement in development projects that are particularly conspicuous, irrespective of actual development outcomes and (2) that small island territories are exceptionally well-placed to produce such conspicuousness. We use the case of the construction of the 'climate-resilient' Dominica label following Hurricane Maria in 2017 to illustrate how both aid donors and recipients can be motivated to pursue short-term projects aimed at currently fashionable areas in the field of development (such as climate change resilience) instead of addressing areas with greater potential to foster lasting improvements and built local capacity. We ultimately recommend a greater awareness of the false economies of conspicuous ODA and aid.

Type: Article
Title: Reflections on conspicuous sustainability: Creating Small Island Dependent States (SIDS) through Ostentatious Development Assistance (ODA)?
DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2020.08.004
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2020.08.004
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Islands, Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Official Development Assistance (ODA), Aid, Sustainable development, Conspicuous sustainability
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Inst for Risk and Disaster Reduction
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10108865
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