Francisco Noguera

Guest Post: Silver Lining to the Financial Meltdown?

Bill KramerGuest blogger Bill Kramer is principal of The Global Challenge Network, LLC, an executive education and training company. From 2001 through mid-2007, he worked on pro-poor business strategies with WRI. Previously, Bill founded a non-profit focusing on the relationship of knowledge to economic development and enjoyed a long career in the private sector, founding a dozen companies, most of which were in the book business.

By Bill Kramer

Nobody should make light of the terrible toll that the current global financial crisis; it will cause human hardship domestically and across the world, and hit vulnerable populations with particular vengeance. But an article in The New York Times from Thursday, October 16, 2008 (“Asia Looks to Its Own Consumers To Bolster the Region’s Economies”), points out that there are two sides to this firestorm: export sales are weak, but in a number of sectors, in a number of countries, domestic sales are actually on the rise.NextBillion readers will know our bias: both the public and private sectors ought to pay more attention to local consumers as sustainable economic growth comes only through development of local economies (if such development is guided by meaningful care inclusiveness, equity and the environment; governance counts).?

One cannot take joy in the current situation, but it is fair to wonder if “our time” is approaching faster, whether first, a global economic slowdown will relieve the intense pressure on natural resources, and can be a pivotal moment to push hard for local, regional and global instruments to protect ecosystems and vulnerable populations when, in the course of time, the global economy revives – and it will. ?

Second, as the Times article already suggests, export-led firms are looking to local markets to replace lost business.? Here, BOP knowledge is vital, not just for business, but for policy-makers; in most emerging markets, much needs to be done on the policy front to create and sustain local economic development.

Third, this may be a crucial time for sovereign states to re-examine not just their natural resource policies and economic policies, but also to rationalize and strengthen local infrastructure along sustainable lines. ?

The SD community has much to offer in this crisis. Carpe diem.