Global development efforts must be guided by a vision of the type of communities we wish to create and to live in.
They must be animated by a set of universal values such as justice and trustworthiness. It is also essential to have just institutions, at local, national and international levels.
Furthermore, in the Bahá’í view “successful development efforts require, above all, a spirit of cooperation and collaboration among the participants in the development process. The absence of such a spirit of common endeavour up to the present time – within local communities and nations as well as between countries – constitutes in our view the main reason for the limited success … and the persistence of gross economic inequalities. … The required higher level of cooperation can only be motivated by a sincere appreciation for the unity of all human beings.
Only on such a basis can prejudices related to nation, race, religion, sex, and other prejudices that hinder determined and equitable development activities be eradicated”.
There is need for cooperation to eliminate human suffering and to ensure that every individual meets his/ her basic human needs. It is a requirement of justice that all members of community are included in development efforts – whether men or women and from whatever background they may be.
According to a statement of the Bahá’í International Community: “cooperation between countries is essential in eradicating the gross inequalities among nations that continue to destabilize the world. A new level of conscious recognition of world community must be brought about in order for developed and developing countries to be willing to cooperate…”.
To cultivate an attitude of cooperation at all the levels of society, there is need for universal education in the oneness of humanity and the concept of world citizenship. Furthermore, science and religion should be used both in order to come up with effective strategies and plans for the kind of development we are seeking.
The development efforts should foster the well-being of all members of society. For endeavours in development to bring prosperity to all, they need to take into account moral and spiritual, ethical, emotional and intellectual development.
“Effective development” according to a statement of the Baháí International Community will “depend on moral and spiritual values beginning with the individual and extending to society.
From even cursory observation, it would appear that individual and social selfishness, greed, dishonesty, hatred and injustice are the reverse of what is needed to bring about the unity and understanding, without which no progress can be made”.
The current concept of development, based mainly on a materialistic approach, has not been able to solve the problems for which it was intended. Neither has it been capable of leading humanity to the tranquillity and prosperity which it seeks.
In search of alternative approaches, development practitioners are increasingly realizing that new efforts will only succeed when universal values and their enforcement are made an essential part in the development process. “No matter how far the material world advances,” the Bahai Writings state, “it cannot establish the happiness of mankind. Only when material and spiritual civilization are linked and coordinated will happiness be assured”.
Religious and spiritual values should be viewed not as separate from “real world concerns”, but as vital sources of knowledge and motivation, as source of values, insights, and energy without which social cohesion and collective action are difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.