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Thursday, April 19, 2007

A vision of development awareness in Europe for the 21st century

On 26 February the first European Multi-stakeholder Development Education (DE) Steering Group meeting took place to develop a common vision of what Development awareness in Europe should be for the 21st century.

There is strong evidence to suggest that a general public that is more informed (and critical) about global development issues is vital in order to sustain the political will of European governments to meet their Millennium Development Goal (MDG) commitments. In short, countries that are higher spenders on development awareness have, in general, higher ODA/GNI ratios. Despite this, there is, to date, no overarching European policy framework on development education and public awareness to support and complement the work at EU Member-State level.

For the first time, representatives from a broad array of civil society, governmental and inter-governmental organisations have now started to concretely spell out what could be a European development education policy framework, why, and through what process. Representatives from the current German Presidency, the future Portuguese Presidency, and the Belgian, Polish and Irish Ministries of Foreign Affairs/Development; the European Commission; the OECD Development Centre; UNDP Slovakia; the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe; Global Education Network Europe (GENE); the European Youth Forum; DEEEP (Development Education Exchange in Europe Project); and CONCORD's Development Education Forum (DEF) are holding discussions within a Steering Group.

This group has agreed that the Strategic Framework should be partly a "Vision", containing challenging, forward-looking political thinking on DE/AR in the 21st century, and should at the same time be partly a practitioner’s guide, complete with practical tools and guidelines. The focus will be on the EU, although it will deal with global issues and general principles and objectives and so will not be Euro-centric. The Vision will also stress the strong coherence between national and EU policies, and between all the activities of the stakeholders involved. Its broad aim will be to ensure greater understanding of development issues among the European public. Its precise objectives and structure are being worked on. The Vision will be a tool to support the work of all the stakeholders. Emphasis will be put on quality, highlighting best practice, and it will be self-critical and forward-looking, offering a long-term vision for DE/AR beyond 2015 and the Millennium Development Goals. This could be a specific follow-up to the 2005 European Consensus for Development, and a contribution to Wallström's Plan D for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate.

The Steering Group will continue to develop firm proposals on the Vision to present to the wider plenary group of DE/AR experts, hopefully in the autumn. As its aim is to support existing coordination structures and parallel processes, relevant external events by the different stakeholders will be fed into the work of the Vision. One of these events will be the DEEEP Summer School on "Achieving the MDGs: the role of Development Education" which will be held in Slovakia from 26 June to 2 July. DEEEP will be sure to keep you updated of the developments of this multi-stakeholder process – now that it has well and truly kicked off!

For further information: Adam Davies (a.davies@deeep.org), DEEEP Advocacy Officer.

Source: CONCORD Flash - March 2007.

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