Capabilities refer to the actual alternatives (opportunities) that people have, in their real and distinct living conditions, for freely and genuinely deciding on what to be or what to do.
The Capability Approach emerged from the works of Indian economist Amartya Sen in the 80s. This argues that the conceptual framework utilized for the design, analysis, and evaluation of development policies tends to rely on aggregative or economic-only data which, while important, is insufficient, because it excludes information that would enable a better understanding of how people are actually doing in their lives – about what people are actually capable of being and doing, and what are the opportunities society has provided them to choose and lead the lives they have reason to value.
Further developed by other authors, such as Martha Nussbaum, the approach conceptualizes development as an integrated process, that in seeking social justice should aim at expanding human substantive freedoms (to be and do what they have reason to value) and eliminating what impedes them to lead the life they want.
What distances the Capability approach from other approaches is mainly it emphasis on:
* the extent to which people enjoy freedoms as key information to design, analyse, and evaluate development policies.
* both human capabilities and societal arrangements, as well as the way in which they mutually influence each other.
* both, policies’ outcomes and the process through which those results are achieved (as both crucial for the exercise of development) — rescuing the concerns of both the utilitarianism and the political liberalism currents of thought.
* the fact that each individual has a differentiated capacity to convert achieved commodities and utilities into what he considers being ad hoc to his own well being.
Corrosive disadvantages are a term of Amartya Sen's Capability Approach. It refers to obstacles to development that, in addition to limiting the creation of opportunities, create other obstacles.
Development here is understood through Amartya Sen Capability Approach as a process which primary end and primary means are the expansion of people’s freedoms to be and do what they have reason to value.
Development agents are individuals, international, national and local governments and organizations, companies or communities, foundations or universities, and organized social units of all types and scale, public or private, that contribute to the process of development from one or many of its distinct domains (ie, combating poverty, health, education, environmental protection, etc) by creating or participating on existing development initiatives.
The concept of development initiatives refers to the programs, policies, or projects carried out by development agents to improve any given are of development (such as health, education, hunger eradication, etc). The concept can apply both to a social enterprise’s education program, to a civil organization’s environmental intervention, to a funding agency capacity building process, or to a national authority’s healthcare legislation. The concept, as used here, is systemic in that it refers not only to the program designed by a given organized social unit but to the other components of the social unit as well, which includes the infrastructure, the resources, and also the actors directly involved in the design and implementation of that program, and those directly affected by it.
For an initiative to be built by and for equitable ownership means to recognize the right, capacity, and responsibility of the different actors affected by it to own and control its design, implementation, and evaluation processes.
See: Motivating and capitalizing on local ownership
For an initiative to be integral means to respond to the different local and global developmental – political, environmental, social, economic, cultural – contexts that affect it and towards which it has an impact.
See: Creating and promoting integrative responses
International agenda for sustainable development
The Millennium Development Goals agreement signed in the year 2000 served as key instruments to "build momentum" and "crystalize consensus" within the international community about minimum standards to be achieved for each citizen of the world (as suggested by United Nations’ A new global partnership: Eradicate poverty and transform Economies through sustainable Development, The Report of the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, 2013).
Fortunately, these commitments have now been reaffirmed and sophisticated with the unanimous adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 by UN’s 193 member states.
To learn more about the development objectives to which countries have pledged check: http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/development-agenda/
Natural farming consists in a circular farming technique in which animals’ waste is used to fertilize the crops that will, in turn, sustain the animals. This enables farmers to reduce dependency to external farming resources.
See: Little Donkey Farm 小毛驴市民农园
For an initiative to have pluralistic relevance means to be relevant to the needs, views, interests, conditions, working approaches of the different actors affected by it, both in the present and in the future generations.
See: Assuring plural relevance
Rights or opportunities really available to people, and not just at the normative level.
See What is self-sustainability and why is it so important?
Sustainability / Sustainable
The mainstreaming that the “sustainability” imperative has had within the international development agenda since the nineties has carried within itself the recognition that different contexts request different inputs and represent the origin of different demands. Simultaneously, it has raised global awareness of the existing interdependence between the world’s different communities, and within the different developmental dimensions (economic, environmental, political, etc.) in which they cohabit. Both of these notions have helped in gathering enough consensus among the international community in that the central and most pressing of its objectives has to be finding an appropriate and viable model of development that is sustainable. One that is responsive to both the common and the diverse (spatial and temporal) challenges and aspirations of humanity.
This —at least nominal— consensus has stimulated the enactment of numerous agreements, legislations, institutions and monitoring tools to promote “sustainability”. In them, we could say that there has been significant agreement in defining this imperative as one that requires that development initiatives, concurrently:
a) are integral (respond to the local and global developmental – political, environmental, social, economic, cultural – contexts that affect them and towards which they have an impact),
b) have pluralistic relevance (are relevant to the needs, views, interests, conditions, working approaches of the different actors affected by them, both in the present and in the future generations),
c) are built by and for equitable ownership (recognize the right, capacity, and responsibility of the different actors affected by them to own and control their design, implementation, and evaluation processes).
These have been the most agreed implications of the concept of ”sustainable development” emanating from the Brundtland Report, which represented a watershed for the reflections among development stakeholders on the field’s objectives and means, because of its strong evidence-based arguments about the harmful effects of the prevailing model of development (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987).