The importance of assets in current development debates: Millennium Development Goals, social protection and climate change

Research output: Working paper


As we reach the end of the first decade of the 21st century, new development issues prioritise the agenda, at the level of both theory and practice. However, underpinning such new issues is the continuing concern with global poverty, and the search for new initiatives to address the significant challenges that persistent poverty and growing inequality presents. Theoretical debates, for instance, have shifted from measurements of income or consumption poverty to recognition of poverty as ‗multidimensional‘ deprivation that includes a lack of capabilities, assets and entitlements. Complementing this are debates around empowerment and human rights, and an increasing focus on the capital asset portfolios of the poor. At the policy level, three new policy initiatives seek to tackle this complex problem; the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which currently represent the dominating normative guideline for national governments and international donors in their combat against poverty;social protection, defined as interventions that aim to prevent, manage and overcome poverty and vulnerabilities; and the adverse impacts posed by climate change (CC) and changing weather patterns on the livelihoods of the poor, probably the most recent policy concern.This paper seeks to explore the extent to which the incorporation of an asset accumulation framework into the three new development issues can assist in overcoming some of the challenges presented by poverty and inequality. It identifies best practice examples of bottomup poverty reduction initiatives which already incorporate an asset accumulation framework, before identifying a range of potential entry points for incorporating asset accumulation into MDG-related policies, social protection schemes and CC initiatives. By way of a background, the paper starts by summarising the asset accumulation framework and its associated policy components, including the aims and programmes of different asset generation policies. The following three sections then discuss the incorporation of an asset framework into the three new development agendas identified above. In each case the paper first mentions the contextual background, before elaborating in a more comprehensive description on the manner and extent to which an asset-based approach is incorporated. Each section ends with the identification of further opportunities for incorporating assets. The final section of the paper summarises the main findings.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationManchester
Number of pages48
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011

Publication series

NameGlobal Urban Research Centre Working Papers
PublisherGlobal Urban Research Centre, University of Manchester


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