Earlier this month I attended the Opportunity Collaboration Summit, which brought together over 250 social impact leaders from across the country to find solutions to poverty and injustice in the United States. Attendees gather to discuss challenges, brainstorm tangible solutions, and share resources to help move our country forward.
At the Summit, I was lucky to have the opportunity to lead a discussion session, titled What is Equitable Development & How Do We Achieve It? Together with about 20 other attendees, we discussed how to develop a common definition of equitable development, and the set of criteria that can be used to determine if development is equitable, including longevity, local relevance, cultural awareness, and coordination. More detail on criteria we discussed can be found below.
Below are a few of the outcomes, recommendations, and key themes from our discussion:
Do not let the loudest voices in a development process drown others out – oftentimes they don’t represent the views of all residents
Be clear about who and what you are trying to impact – there are often both winners and losers, so you want to make sure you’re set up to achieve the right results
Ownership doesn’t just mean influence – some of the best projects create a way for locals to hold assets that generate wealth over time
A single development or project is rarely sufficient to be transformative in a community – thinking about the broader context, trends, and investments can make the difference in aligning with longer term funding and an ability to build subsequent projects in a community
There is a huge need to educate funders and local leaders on the complexity of equitable development and the time and effort it takes to do it well