I’ve spent most of my professional life helping organizations be more open to their stakeholders. I’m a partner in a consulting company in Chile, whose typical customer is a for-profit organization wishing to develop some kind of public works project (for example, an electricity generation station, a transmission line, a mine, a road, an airport, or something similar). Projects like these typically aim to fill a social need—but they’re often intended for locations where development and operation can have negative impacts (or, in economic terms, “externalities”).
Old school development theory, based on John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism, is willing to sacrifice local good for overall benefit to society. Recently, however, a number of factors (including improved communications and the growth of interest in rural tourism, as well as the non-essential “needs” that many of us hope to satisfy) have created a situation in which local interests are not at all willing to sacrifice any more of their immediate neighborhood to provide benefits to people who live and work far away. Today, we see a growing amount of well-coordinated and very visible resistance to this kind of development.
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