Leader: A global big society

While we're on the subject of building resourcefulness and well-being, it is worth noting that many people are beginning to argue that a vision committed to empowering local politics in the UK needs a counterpart in the arena of international aid. It is welcome that, so far, pressures to treat international aid as a soft target for cuts have been resisted. But it would be good, now, to see some clarity about how development resources can be targeted towards the consolidation of civil society institutions. When I go later this month to Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo, I know I shall be seeing what can be achieved by a focus on women's groups, microfinance programmes and local health-insurance schemes. Much of it is "faith-based" but not faith-exclusive. If there is a global version of big society thinking, it surely has to be concentrated here. Without this, the democratic deficit in Africa will never be dealt with - and the human cost will be even more appalling than it is now.

Dr Rowan Williams is the Archbishop of Canterbury

Rowan Williams is an Anglican prelate, theologian and poet, who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 2002 to 2012. He writes on books for the New Statesman

This article first appeared in the 13 June 2011 issue of the New Statesman, Rowan Williams guest edit