Reporting on development issues: does greater urbanisation mean greater development?

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Mark, Alejandro and I have applied to the EJC grant programme to report on the UN Millenium Development Goals, following our own and preferably innovative perspective.

Here is our pitch:

The complex reality of development is typically reported in one of two ways. Countries are either future global economic giants or the scene for deep-rooted violence and poverty.
In reality, development is largely being driven by ever-increasing urbanisation, at the same time ‘desertifying’ the countryside of its people and natural resources.
We will encourage fresh reflection on Millennium Development Goal 1* and whether greater urbanisation does lead to increased development or if alternatives for living and measuring its progress exist.

Less than two years before the UN MDGs expire, development reporting can be seen as inducing a ‘fatigue’ among its audience.
Our team will overcome this by breaking the barrier between them and the subject of our coverage using innovative, multi-platform and pluridisciplinary journalism. The subject of our coverage – feeding people in the context of growing urbanisation – is a universal need, very topical in Europe, where ‘malbouffe’ in France, ‘junk food’ in the UK or ‘comida basura’ in Spain are raising concerns among citizens.
Each team member will analyse the MDG1 sub targets from an urban, environmental or cultural angle – following our fields of expertise – and these will be interlinked through the issue of food. We will each work in our native languages. National and specialised press, as well as radio stations, are ready to publish our work in the UK, France and Spain.
We will gather statistics to answer whether increased urbanisation leads to better fulfilment of MDG1 in Brazil. The challenge of lifting millions out of poverty in Brazilian cities without depleting the country’s natural resources is crystallising ahead of hosting a World Cup. Moreover, Brazil could soon be part of a major food trade deal and is witnessing ongoing rural exodus.

Do rural residents have any choice but to become part of an urban community to get out of poverty? What do they want from development? Are they heading for a different type to that seen in the West?
We will visit specific locations addressing each of the three sub-targets to MDG1 and also showcase successful examples of poverty and hunger reduction that respect the local environment.

(…)

* MDG 1: Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger

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