Thursday, June 05, 2008

EDC2020 research programme kicks off in Brussels

Brussels, 2 June 2008. The European Development Cooperation to 2020 - 'EDC2020' - research programme kicked off today with a conference in Brussels. The project, funded by the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) of the European Union and coordinated by EADI, "aims at encouraging close collaboration between researchers and policy makers and [...]at improving EU policy makers' and other societal actors' shared understanding of emerging challenges facing EU development policy and external action."

EADI President Jean-Luc Maurer introduces the EDC2020 project:

During the launch event, three interesting panels discussed the major subjects to be addressed in the programme:
  • New actors in international development
  • Development policy energy security and democracy
  • Development and Climate Change
In the first panel, Professor Yang Guang, Director of the Institute of West Asian and African Studies in China (IWAAS) discussed his research on the operations of 20 Chinese companies in Mali, Ethiopia and Sudan. In each case, over 70% of the employees were local. In his opinion the companies would be interested in signing Corporate Social Responsibility agreements and reporting on environmental impact if there was more awareness of the approaches and more training was available.

Sven Grimm of the German Development Institute presented how the new actors have changed the development sector. He argued there are many opportunities to learn from their approaches, both in terms of speed and efficiency of delivery, and in political approaches, engaging high level politicians from the outset.

Ana Maria Gomes, MEP, whilst agreeing that some lessons could be learned, feared that some activities of these new actors did not take sufficient account of environmental or social impacts.

The second panel addressed energy, security, democracy and political development issues. Richard Youngs of the Fundacion para les Relaciones Internacionales y el Dialogo Exterior (FRIDE) outlined the approach of the EDC2020 project towards these issues. He particularly highlighted the complexity of current European thinking on development assistance in this area, which is linked with the EUs own needs for domestic energy security. He noted that the energy arrangements of EU member states with developing countries may be more linked with domestic supplies than with the needs of the developing country.

Jos van Gennep (SID) spoke of the need to foster democracy and the use of conditionality, and drew links with the other topics, stressing how new actors and climate change are so intrinsically linked with each other.

The issue of European development policy and climate change was discussed in the final panel, where Leo Peskett from ODI presented a number of opportunities for developing countries in the carbon offset market and highlighted climate adaptation approaches. Walter Kennes of the European Commission described the policy of DG Development in this area, in particular the global alliance for Climate Change between the EU and ACP countries.

Philippe Keraudren, European Commission, DG Research, reflects on EDC2020:

Story by Chris Addison

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