Introduction to FSDR December 2019 Newsletter

Welcome to the second volume of the FSDR newsletter. With this edition, we find ourselves leaving both the year and decade. However, for this introduction, I would like to focus on the future, as we are also leaving the darkest part of the year and it is an excellent time to look to the brighter days ahead. Because while we as people, development practitioners/researchers, a species, and a planet have seen dark days, I truly believe we have our brightest ahead of us. The power structures of the world are shifting, the environment is in crisis, and our technology is moving faster than our collective ability to understand, appreciate, and regulate. Yet, such great and simultaneous challenges brings great opportunities for positive change. All people have the potential (and I believe duty) to affect positive change in the world; as development practitioners and researchers, especially in the context of being based in/related to Finland (with all the benefits that affords), have a greater potential and weight of duty than most.

Sustainability; respect for plurality of thoughts and cultures, while also appreciating and cultivating one’s own culture; decolonialism/an end to paternalistic mind sets; the utilization of technology and communication to facilitate better, inclusive, and more environmentally harmonious development that does not sacrifice (but rather enhances) wellbeing . These are all possible, and the ways toward them answer major concerns from both the left and the right. Heading into this new year, new decade, and the brightening spring, we must be at the vanguard of a brighter future. Of course, we must use our knowledge, experience, creativity, and curiosity. However, we must also be: self-reflective, to see our own mistakes, learn from them, and improve by example; patient and compassionate, to realize we are all in this together and to appreciate whatever others can do (even if it might not seem like a lot); as well as decisive and resolute, as we cannot afford to spend time being paralyzed over a possible misstep, when the alternative is people acting determinately in a way that will unquestionably produce a far worse outcome. So, with this, I wish you a happy New Year, and look forward to the brighter days ahead!


Christopher Chagnon, Editor