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Guide to Development Speak



A general conception, model, or worldview that may be influential in shaping thinking on a particular subject.


Often used to refer specifically to processes in which interested parties take an active part in planning and decision-making, implementation, learning and evaluation.


The process of restoring normal relations between people or groups of people. Peacebuilding usually involves reconciliation of differences, apology and forgiveness of past harm and the establishment of a cooperative relationship between groups.


Refers to the profits made by oil exporting countries when the price rose during the 1970s, and their preference for holding these profits in U.S. dollar-denominated assets, either in the U.S. or in Europe as Eurodollars. A portion of these were in turn lent by banks to oil-importing developing countries that used them to buy oil.

Physical capital

Things such as machinery, tools, equipment, furniture, parts, and buildings, that are needed to produce goods and services.

Political will

A determined course of action by persons in political authority. Political will may be put behind such goals as elimination of inequality, poverty, and unemployment. Lack of political will is often said to be one of the main obstacles to development.

Polluter pays principle

The idea that polluters accept responsibility for their actions in order to protect the environment. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has recommended all governments adopt the principle.

Population density

The number of inhabitants per unit area of land, for example, per square kilometre.
Poverty gap

Roughly the sum of the difference between the poverty line and actual income levels of all those living below that line.

Poverty line

The level of income below which a person is considered not to be able to satisfy their basic needs. This level varies across time and societies, and each country buses lines which are appropriate to its level of development and its social values.

Precautionary principle

The process whereby action is taken to stave off potential large-scale environmental disasters such as global warming, without waiting for scientific proof about the cause or extent of the problem.

Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP)

An IMF/World Bank poverty reduction strategy for developing countries which is prepared with the participation of domestic stakeholders. A PRSP describes the economic and social policies and programmes that a country has agreed to undertake over several years to promote growth and reduce poverty.

Preventive medicine

The prevention of sickness and disease through immunisation and health education.

Primary health care

Health services such as a clean water supply, sanitation, immunisation and nutrition education. They are designed to be affordable for both those in poverty who receive them and the governments that provide them. They stress preventing disease as well as curing it.

Primary products

Any agricultural product or mineral, in a natural or unprocessed form, which enters into international trade. Primary products are mainly produced by developing countries for sale to industrialised countries. They include tea, bananas and rubber.

Private sector

The businesses, companies and professionals who trade for income and profit.


The selling of government-owned industries and services to private companies.

Private foreign investment

The investment of private foreign funds, often by multinational corporations, in the economy of a developing nation.


The practice of protecting domestic markets and industries by restricting or prohibiting competition from other countries, usually through tariffs (charges for the import of goods) or quotas.

Purchasing power parity (PPP)

A method of measuring the relative purchasing power of different countries’ currencies over the same types of goods and services. Because goods and services may cost more in one country than in another, PPP allows for more accurate comparisons of standards of living across countries.

Physical capital

The plant and equipment used in production.
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