CED recognizes the need to integrate social, environmental and economic decision-making to respond to community needs in a holistic manner and to build local capacity to improve the quality of life in communities.
Community Economic Development (CED) is increasingly recognized as a critical approach to assuring appropriate, sustainable development, both in the North and the South.
Conventional approaches to local economic development are often short-term, driven by outside interests, and unaware of the social and ecological dimensions of development, sometimes with devastating consequences. In contrast, CED as “a process by which communities can initiate and generate their own solutions to their common economic problems and thereby build long-term community capacity and foster the integration of economic, social and environmental objectives.”
CED promotes initiatives that contribute to the economic health and viability of communities, and also emphasizes environmental considerations and the importance of the social economy in broader economic thinking. It is based in the belief that problems such as poverty, environmental degradation, and the loss of local control must be addressed with a holistic and participatory approach.
CED supports the development of local economies and enterprises that are both equitable and sustainable. The CED approach fosters innovation and enterprise growth that translates into real and ongoing sources of income and employment for citizens and communities that result in poverty reduction, with a particular emphasis on increasing the participation of marginalized populations in economic and decision-making activities.
At the same time, CED promotes the participation, organizing capacity and social inclusion of marginalized populations, generating social capital and a reciprocal relationship between public institutions and citizens. Experience has shown that increased citizen participation is an important factor in the fight against poverty, that poverty reduction is not only a responsibility of governments, but also a result of generating “action by and for the poor.”
The CED approach supports poor and marginalized peoples to take initiative in their local communities, both by generating their own solutions, and by lobbying public bodies to fulfill their obligations. In other words, this approach creates opportunities for poor and marginalized groups to participate in public decision-making, fulfill their democratic rights, and become central actors in the resolution of their local social, economic, and environmental challenges.