The European Journal of Development Research

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 541–559 | Cite as

Towards an Elaborated Theory of Inclusive Development

  • Joyeeta Gupta
  • Nicky R M Pouw
  • Mirjam A F Ros-Tonen
Original Article


Sustainable development often leads to strong trade-offs, mostly in favour of economic growth. Inclusive development responds by focusing mainly on the social and environmental aspects of development and on current generations. While the literature covers inclusive growth in some detail, few authors actually elaborate on inclusive development and how the concept can be made operational. This article first positions inclusive development in the development debate. It then discusses inclusive development per se, in the Anthropocene, and from a relational perspective. Finally, it elaborates how inclusive development can be implemented by (i) developing relevant epistemic communities, communities of practice and social movements, (ii) transforming governance into interactive governance to enable empowerment and (iii) adopting appropriate governance instruments. It concludes that inclusive development will only be brought about through genuine interactive governance that provides the instruments and creates the conditions for adaptive learning and the empowerment of marginalized people.


inclusive development sustainable development Anthropocene relational perspective interactive governance empowerment adaptive learning 


Le développement durable conduit souvent à de forts compromis, principalement en faveur de la croissance économique. Le développement inclusif, en revanche, se concentre principalement sur les aspects sociaux et environnementaux du développement et sur les générations actuelles. Alors que la littérature aborde le sujet de la croissance inclusive en détail, quelques auteurs seulement abordent le sujet du développement inclusif et traitent de comment le concept peut être rendu opérationnel. Tout d’abord ce document positionne le développement inclusif dans le débat sur le développement. Il traite ensuite du développement inclusif en soi, dans l’anthropocène, et dans une perspective relationnelle. Enfin, il élabore la façon dont le développement inclusif peut être mis en œuvre par (i) la création de communautés épistémiques pertinentes, de communautés de pratique et de mouvements sociaux, (ii) la transformation de la gouvernance en gouvernance interactive pour permettre l’autonomisation, et (iii) l’adoption d’outils de gouvernance appropriés. Les auteurs concluent que le développement inclusif ne pourra être provoqué que par le biais d’une véritable gouvernance interactive qui fournit les outils et crée les conditions pour un apprentissage adaptatif et pour l’autonomisation des personnes marginalisées.


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Copyright information

© European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joyeeta Gupta
    • 1
    • 2
  • Nicky R M Pouw
    • 2
  • Mirjam A F Ros-Tonen
    • 2
  1. 1.UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, DelftThe Netherlands
  2. 2.University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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