Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Increasing Social Capital


Though not (yet) a part of GDRC's programmes, the concept of social capital is an interesting precondition to many of the themes and issues that are covered in its 15 programmes. Social capital is formed out of "the networks of relationships among persons, firms, and institutions in a society, together with associated norms of behavior, trust, cooperation, etc., that enable a society to function effectively."

Take microfinance - much of its success lies in the presence of social capital within the communities that use microfinance. Effective disaster risk reduction practices have succeeded in some communities, but failed in others - research has shown that success has depended on the level and strength of social capital in the community. Active involvement of the community in heritage and conservation efforts have also largely been affected by the pride that the community feels about their locality - another vote for its social capital.

And sustainable development itself - if it has to happen, will happen at the community level. And in the daily decisions and consumption patterns that we adopt. Concern for our neighbours, for the community and for future generations can easily be activated when social capital is high ...

Maybe its time for the Sustainable Development programme of GDRC to pick up this thread of thought and create a new feature page!