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The Road from Rio: Sustainable Development and the Non-Governmental Movement in the Third World

The cover for The Road from Rio: Sustainable Development and the Nongovernmental Movement in the Third WorldFisher expertly describes and analyzes the growing non-governmental movement throughout the Third World in relation to the global issue of sustainable development, highlighted by the recent Rio Conference. An estimated 200,000 or more indigenous NGOs (non-governmental organizations) at both the grassroots and intermediary levels help fill the void created by the failure of governments to adequately address the escalating, intertwined crises of poverty, environmental degradation, and population. NGOs, a number of which Fisher examines in detail, address the myriad problems associated with dire poverty, environmental destruction, pervasive unemployment, and the grinding exploitation of women. The stimulus to action and group effort is typically the basic need for life’s fundamentals–food, shelter, and safety. Fisher points out, however, that NGOs focusing on population have grown less rapidly than those concentrating on enterprise development and/or environmental degradation.

Fisher identifies the core abilities within and among NGOs that help them develop effective short-term strategies and also enhance their institutional sustainability in the long run. She demonstrates that this grassroots movement is a vital, growing force in the vast majority of Third World countries, with the potential to undermine the politics of repression and inequality. The international importance of NGOs is increasingly evident, given their ability to network and support one another. Fisher offers a comprehensive, insightful, and substantive assessment of what may be the most hopeful institutional resource available for the sustainable development of the Third World and, therefore, our ultimate survival as a species.

Description courtesy of Goodreads.

Reviews for The Road from Rio

“The world community is looking for new opportunities; curiosity is piqued, but real knowledge about what NGOs [Non-Governmental Organizations] are and what they do is remarkably thin. . . . This book gives a fascinating overview and comparison of the universe of NGOs in Asia, Africa, and Latin America–and notes the relative dearth of them in the Middle East.”

-Marion Ritchey Vance
Office of Learning and Dissemination Inter-American Foundation

“It is difficult for people working on particular water, land, or vegetation programs to appreciate the magnitude and long-term significance of this blooming around the world of grassroots organizations and of networks to support them. Fisher provides an admirable, comprehensive appraisal of how this immensely diverse movement is growing.”

-Gilbert F. White Gustavus
Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Geography University of Colorado Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center

“Road from Rio is an exhaustively researched and documented volume that brings alive the Southern front of an awakening global civil society. Julie Fisher makes a clear distinction between true grassroots people’s initiatives toward self-empowerment and the well-intentioned grassroots initiatives of outsiders. She leaves little doubt that the former is a real and powerful reality and examines both appropriate and inappropriate roles for outside organizations. . . . This is a must read volume for anyone concerned about people’s development.”

-David C. Korten
Fellow and President The People-Centered Development Forum

“Without the active support of natural allies in the women’s, development, and environment communities, family planning programs are increasingly vulnerable to mounting attacks from both the far right and far left of the political spectrum. The Rio Earth Summit amply demonstrated these difficulties. Fisher makes important recommendations about how to link up these constituencies to their mutual benefit, and her description of hundreds of grassroots organizations is an essential road map for anyone who wants to help make it happen.”

-Dr. Sharon Camp
Senior Vice President and Director Education and Public Policy Population Action International

“Now, in one book–with a companion volume to come–the picture is clearly and accurately drawn of how grassroots self-help works. . . . The quality and details of [Fisher’s] coverage of the Third World is impressive, and in itself contributes to the authoritativeness of the book. There are major policy implications on every page.”

-Elise Boulding
Professor Emerita of Sociology, Dartmouth College Past Secretary General, International Peace Association