Thoughts were most definitely provoked earlier this week by a passionate talk in our ‘Thinking Big’ series from economist Benny Dembitzer. Currently a visiting lecturer in economics at Greenwich and London Metropolitan Universities, Benny is a former international development consultant who has worked for various international organisations, including OXFAM, the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme and the International Trade Centre. Benny was also a member of the team that won the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize and is the author of several books, including The Attack on World Poverty, Sleepwalking into Famine and The Famine Next Door.
Benny touched on a number of important global topics, including climate change, consumerism, technology and political instability, but focussed on the subject of migration: specifically, the reasons he believes people are ‘pushed’ out of their countries rather than ‘pulled’ to others and what should be done to change this. Focusing on Sub-Saharan Africa, Benny’s proposition that agriculture should be at the heart of development, and that women are key agents of development, engaged his student audience, not least those studying business and economics; many thoughtful questions followed and some students stayed behind for further conversation with our eminent speaker.