Stefano Roveda

Paths of development

Blog Post created by Stefano Roveda Partner on 16-Feb-2018

I think that it is necessary to learn before to teach. I know I am saying this too much already and I tend to be boring.

I want then to write 2 or 3 little stories to back this concept up a little bit.


I want to talk with you about the belief that there is no single way towards development. 

To think in the world so many different cultures exist, as a result of as many different histories and evolution, how can I believe there is just one path a country or a population must follow in order to develop?


Yet, it is what seems to happen in many cases of interaction between the European Union (EU) and USA on one side and the "developing" countries on the other one. Even when the goal is to help, to do something good, it may happen the solution we, white men, provide is a solution designed by and for us, that suits our standards and conditions. The consequences are either this solution doesn't work for another reality or it shapes it to look like the reality it was designed by. I shared some experience-based impressions in an article about Volunteering and sustainable development.


This time I'll bring on the Rapa Nui case.

Also known as Easter Island, it is a tiny spit of land in the middle of the ocean. It is 20 km long and 4000 km far from Chile, to which belong politically.

Despite being this small and isolated, people there developed an impressive culture, that went through different stages and revolutions and almost to extinction at a certain time.

I went to Rapa Nui during a brief period while I was working in Chile and I was amazed by what I said above, but even more by the pride and the awareness of the locals. They are well conscious the solution adopted by Chile for them doesn't fit their reality.


"We have always gone our way", said a local forest guard that picked us up, "why do we have to follow the Chilean way right now?" "Rapa Nui people never used concrete, our houses are built with embed volcanic rocks or wood, now we have to import concrete for building luxury hotels" "We never ate pork, there was not on the island, now we have to import it because tourists want it".

The major concern is about the ocean, the source of everything on the island. Source that seems to be exploited by many others. 


People there seemed very conscious of the presence of other solutions, other paths of development. 

Native language is taught in schools and almost everyone is keen in preserving their identity.

They had also in mind an idea of tourism sustainability that is difficult to have since the income brought by tourism is always tempting.


It must be said that in Rapa Nui case the community was in an easy position to realize they could follow another path of development:

1. political decisions are imposed by Chile

2. being a luxury tourist destination put them in the spotlight


There are other types of influence that tend to uniform development and I want to talk about them by telling other examples. I hope not to be too much repetitive or boring, it is just that I am afraid that sometimes what is obvious ends up with being taken for granted.


I am waiting for your opinions!