European Development Days 2016: Focus on implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals
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Last month, over 6,000 international development experts, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, attended the European Development Days (EDDs), Europe’s leading forum on development and international cooperation. Their discussions focussed on the implementation of the ‘2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’, making it one of the very first major conferences dedicated to the issue. The programme included over 120 sessions including high-level discussions, panel debates, and brainstorming sessions, providing the opportunity to hear from global leaders, visionaries and leading experts on development cooperation while networking with professionals from around the world.
ECDPM moderated or were panellists in several sessionsECDPM’s Director and several staff members participated in the EDDs. They moderated or were panellists at several sessions ranging on issues from trade and development to climate, culture, and tax and development. If you weren’t able to attend the meeting, videos or podcasts of each session are now available. Visit the EDD’s website for recordings of all the sessions from the two days of the conference. Below are the events in which ECDPM was involved (all linked pages include a video or podcast of the session). Ivan Kulis at the EDD16 San Bilal moderated a high-level panel session, organised by the European Commission, on the development and trade link in the SDGs. The session discussed leveraging the developmental impact of market forces through international cooperation. The key points from the discussion were:
- The private sector needs to be a driver of sustainable development because the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda offers big business opportunities.
- Sustainable development will require big investments in both hard and soft infrastructure.
- Trade has an important developmental role to play, but it needs to be sustainable and inclusive.
- Development policies must pay particular attention to the needs of young people.
- Working with educational institutions is vital to make cultural programmes mainstream.
- EU and national policies should cover all the creative industries, including tourism, design and fashion.
- War and ethnic conflicts pose a direct threat to cultural heritage.
- Culture can be a driver for tackling prejudice and boosting social inclusiveness.
- Additional resources needed for capacity building are only achievable through leveraging private finance.
- Innovation will spread the benefits of moving to a green economy.
- Only tackling climate change will prevent more people falling into poverty.
- Climate change needs to inform all aid policy and geopolitical priorities.
- Corporate tax avoidance is a major challenge for the EU, as highlighted by recent scandals like LuxLeaks, but it is an even greater problem in developing countries, which rely more heavily on corporate tax revenue.
- The International Monetary Fund estimates that developing countries may be losing as much as US$200 billion a year to tax avoidance, or more than these countries receive in official development assistance.
- Earlier this year, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) presented its Base Erosion and Profit Sharing (BEPS) package designed to help governments modernise tax rules and combat aggressive tax avoidance.
- The European Commission is currently working on new legislation based on the BEPS recommendations, but how beneficial these efforts will be for developing countries is a matter of fierce debate.
- The Bekou Trust Fund, being applied in the Central African Republic is a positive example how to link a humanitarian response with development activity to create long-term resilience against future political and economic shocks.
- Agriculture, the country’s major economic activity is a crucial element in building resilience. This approach could be played out in other African countries where agriculture is also the main economic activity.
- One aspect of this development activity is the Food and Agriculture Organization caisses de résilience that take a holistic approach to working with families and communities to strengthen their agricultural techniques by linking the social, financial and technical aspects.
- Local people at all levels must be closely involved in the work. The project is based on local units, such as families and woman play a particularly important role in creating stability and economic growth.
- One challenge is to involve young people in agriculture, as they represent the country’s future economic drivers
- The SDGs require massive new investment that can only be delivered through private-sector involvement.
- Private-sector investment in development is most effective in countries that are reforming their public administration, strengthening the rule of law, and combating corruption.
- The EU and the UN are developing innovative finance instruments to help attract private foreign investment, for example by using Official Development Assistance (ODA) to leverage private finance.
- Foreign investment in emerging markets already exceeds ODA, but development actors stress the importance of preventing exploitation and ensuring sustainability.
- International businesses wanting to invest in fragile African states should build on traditional economic units, such as the informal economy, rather than creating new models.
- The private sector can play a positive role by encouraging governments to create long-term sustainable development.
- Governments wanting to encourage the business environment should change existing regulations to create a more welcoming investment regime for outsiders and take measures to support local SMEs.
- International agencies that are tasked to encourage investment should be proactive in meeting potential investors; they should also encourage outside investors to link up with each other to learn from their experience.
ECDPM also conducted a series of video interviews with expertsFemale agricultural entrepreneurship - Interview with Dorienne Rowan-Campbell: Financial instruments for development - Interview with Frederik van den Bosch: Engaging the private sector - Interview with Rose Sakala: Promotion of regional value chains - Interview with Patrick Caron The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of ECDPM.