Oakland, Ca.May 23, 2005The Independent Institute is launching the new Center on Global Prosperity to examine potential enterprise-based solutions to end abject poverty in developing countries in Latin America and around the world. The Center is the result of a $500,000 award from the John Templeton Foundation’s “What Works in Enterprise-Based Solutions to Poverty" competition. The Independent Institute, a non-partisan, scholarly public policy organization based in Oakland, California, was selected from among fifteen invited think tanks as one of three recipients of the award.
“We are very encouraged by this prestigious award,” said Alvaro Vargas Llosa, Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute, and the Center’s Director. “Our new Center on Global Prosperity will conduct case-studies of many communities in Latin America and other parts of the underdeveloped world that have actually been able to create wealth by using their entrepreneurial and innovative spirit to overcome numerous obstacles,” said Mr. Vargas Llosa, who has written a new book about resolving poverty in the region, LIBERTY FOR LATIN AMERICA: How to Undo Five Hundred Years of State Oppression.
David J. Theroux, founder and president of the Independent Institute, noted that the critical role of entrepreneurs has been largely ignored in analyses of approaches to eliminating poverty in developing countries. He indicated that the Center's scope would include case studies examining how and why central economic planning has widely failed as well as how enterprise-based solutions may have succeeded in advancing the economic welfare of the poor.
"Nearly 200 years after the industrial revolution, it is a tragic fact and demonstrably unnecessary that half the world's population is living in abject poverty and misery," he said, "and yet there already exists a wealth of both science and practical examples of the kinds of solutions that would end world poverty." Approximately 10 percent of the present world population (roughly 600 million people) is estimated to exist at or below an equivalent economic level of $1 per day and approximately half of the world population (3 billion people) live at or below an equivalent economic level of $2 per day.
The Center will bring together a wide range of scholars, commentators, and decision-makers from both developed and developing countries to analyze how entrepreneurship and political decentralization can provide ordinary people with essential tools to overcome the dire conditions brought about by political and economic centralization in many countries. “We will offer comparative studies showing how certain countries, such as Ireland, Estonia, and New Zealand have been able to overcome underdevelopment in the last couple of decades, while others, like Venezuela, Russia, and Nigeria, endowed with greater natural resources and benefiting from substantial foreign aid, still lag behind,” noted Mr. Vargas Llosa. The results of these studies will be published as books, and used to form the basis for conferences and major media programs for academic, policy-making, business, religious, and civic leaders, as well as the general public.
Building upon the Independent Institute’s established record of scholarly research, publications, and communications work on issues of development, including Mr. Vargas Llosa’s recent book, Liberty for Latin America, this important new Center on Global Prosperity boldly seeks to redefine and redirect public debate toward ending poverty, as it is known today. For more on the Center on Global Prosperity and The Independent Institute, please go to: http://www.independent.org/research/cogp/.
Media Contact: Pat Rose/Public Affairs Director