Development Centre

Development in Transition



A country’s level of development and its level of income are often seen as synonymous. Many, thus, understand development as poorer countries “catching up” with richer countries. Once the poorer countries catch up, they cease to be “developing” and become “developed”.

A closer look, however, reveals a different story. First, development is more complex than getting from a to b: it is a continuous and never-ending process that is even reversible. It follows a wide diversity of pathways depending on a country’s specific geography and history. Second, the arrival of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) signal that development has multiple economic, social and environmental dimensions, beyond income. And development outcomes reflect the interdependence amongst national, regional and international levels.

These realities call for a fundamental rethinking of how countries – at all levels of development – should interact with one another in the changing global landscape. Development in Transition (DiT) embraces a movement to better design policies, practices and partnerships both at home and internationally. It seeks to build the machinery of new international co-operation – driven by updated multilateralism – fit for the purpose of promoting sustainable development for all.



In July 2021, policy makers from Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) and Europe met in the context of a series of Dialogues to chart new paths for LAC. They agreed to deepen their engagement on an equal footing and “co-create” the conditions for a stronger, more inclusive and sustainable recovery. Find out about the conclusions and priority areas for action in the communiqué.


Towards a triple transition – strategies for transformational European development action

Today’s geopolitical landscape urgently requires new strategies to overcome the current polycrisis context and live up to the promise of attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The interconnected challenges of recent years – from the worsening impacts of climate change to ongoing geopolitical conflicts and the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic – pose a significant threat to development progress and underscore the need for collective solutions. Some experts go so far as to assert that we are not merely at a critical juncture but find ourselves in an interregnum, a period of crisis within the realm of globalisation where the stability of the old order is uncertain and what lies ahead is not yet clear. In this scenario, two interrelated transitions stand out: the green and digital transitions. A third dimension demands equal attention: the social transition.



Development in Transition: Latin America & the Caribbean

This fresh analysis of the region’s development trajectories assesses four major weaknesses related to productivity, social cohesion, institutions and the environment. It calls for increased domestic capacities and a new vision of international co-operation in support of more sustainable and more inclusive development patterns.



Rethinking development strategies: A global perspective

The 2019 edition of the OECD Perspectives on Global Development investigates how China’s transformation and the “shifting wealth” phenomenon have altered the world’s development outlook. Looking at 70 years of changing development paradigms, it reviews options for developing nations in the 21st century to invent their own, original pathways to greater well-being and sustainability.



International co-operation: Emerging challenges and shifting paradigms (.pdf)

This joint paper with the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) proposes five priorities: new measurements; a focus on national, multidimensional strategies; the promotion of global public goods; exploiting the potential of South-South and triangular cooperation; and new approaches to knowledge-sharing, capacity-building and technology transfers (also available in Spanish).


Development in transition: What are the issues? (.pdf)

Significant development challenges can remain despite progress from one income group classification to the next – and, conversely, some countries achieve progress across non-income development indicators despite lesser progress on incomes. How can international co-operation sustain smooth and successful transitions?





The Development Matters blog series on Development in transition draws on contributions from policy makers, opinion leaders, experts, private sector and civil society representatives in developing and OECD countries, to build a robust conversation not only between countries and a diverse range of stakeholders, but also across policy areas.

The Wilton Park blog series on international co-operation & global public goods contributes to the debate on new approaches to international co-operation and public funding in support of sustainable development.



In its exploration of Development in Transition, the Development Centre relies on the guidance and contributions of associated, leading experts worldwide.

  • Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, Distinguished Fellow, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • Dr Sachin Chaturvedi, Director General, Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), New Delhi, India
  • André de Mello e Souza, Senior Researcher, Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA), Brasilia, Brazil
  • Dr Philani Mthembu, Executive Director, Institute for Global Dialogue (IGD), Pretoria, South Africa
  • Xu Xiuli, Professor of Development Studies, Dean of the College of International Development and Global Agriculture, China Agricultural University, Beijing, P.R. China



Mandate to act

During its 4th High-Level Meeting (2017), the Governing Board of the Development Centre invited it to facilitate a discussion of the implications of developing countries’ transitions to higher income levels and approaches to address them. Opening the Board’s 5th High-Level Meeting (2019), OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria recalled that “all countries are in continuous development”.





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