Global South/Global North – the necessity of invention?


Marcos Kisil


I cannot agree more with the excellent work of Andrew Milner regarding the terms Global South/Global North. It seems that, in the absence of a good explanation for the inequities among countries, and internally between regions and communities in the same country, it is necessary to ‘invent’ terms.

The case reminds me about the use of other ‘inventions’ in the world of philanthropy, as with the use of  ‘transformation’, ‘creative’, ‘high impact’.

It seems that adding an adjective to the subject, authors believe that they have made a great discovery and an exceptional contribution to our understanding and practice of giving. What is only a good quality of any gift became room for an avalanche of articles, books and interviews with ‘inventors’.

I have been working in Latin America for many years and a clear perception we have from here, is the ‘Global North’ insist that ‘Global South’ should follow their concepts and practices.

Just a small example: the use of the term ‘community foundation’. By the 1990s, the concept was introduced and became disseminated in the region as the organizational formula to be promoted.

No attention was given to different existing formulas that had promoted and validated the importance of community philanthropy as distinct from community foundations. Community philanthropy was the issue that should have been promoted, not the organizational model of community foundations.

For this reason, our organisation, the Institute for Development and Social Investment (IDIS) has created a unique and successful programme, supporting and organizing community philanthropy. Today, the idea of community philanthropy has spread. It is strikiing that few organizations that are working with community philanthropy adopted the model of a community foundation.

It seems to me that the effort to disseminate the term ‘community foundation’ impaired for a while a more ample and profound discussion about community philanthropy.

Our sector does not need too many words, but good use of existing ones.

Marcos Kisil is President of the Institute for the Development of Social Investment (IDIS), Brazil.

Comments (1)

Navi Radjou

Hi Marcos: I agree with you. We need to get rid of the 20th century notion of "Global South and Global North" and cultivate a "global consciousness" to co-create frugal solutions that solve wicked problems (healthcare, education, energy, water) that affect entire humanity. Here is a TED Talk where I elaborate more on this (coincidentally I gave this talk in Rio de Janeiro in 2014): And here is an article I wrote on this: Muito Obrigado! Navi

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