Towards Sustainable & Inclusive Growth? – European Development Days 2012

The European Commission has decided on the theme of the annual European Development Days (EDDs) 2012: sustainable and inclusive growth. The theme was announced at a stakeholder meeting I attended on behalf of Agriculture for Impact in Brussels on 23 April.

The EDDs – fixed as the 16-17 October – will further focus on the three sub-themes of (1) engaging the private sector; (2) inclusive growth; and (3) development, agriculture and food security. These themes are based on the priorities identified in the Commission’s Agenda for Change published in October 2011.

In addition to special keynote speeches and three high-level panels (HLPs) organised by the Commission, there will be a competitive bidding process for other development partners to fill the remaining 15 allocated HLP slots.

The Commission has decided that HLPs will run in groups of three for 90-minute slots; VIP and high-profile speakers are actively encouraged in order to draw wider public attention to the important issues on the agenda.

One briefing participant pointed out that putting HLP sessions in parallel may downgrade the prominence of the opportunity for speakers, splitting the EDD audience three ways each time.

I share this concern, and I also note that the timing of the EDDs conflicts with the annual Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium that take place around the award of the World Food Prize on 17-19 October 2012.  There are so few global opportunities to debate sustainable agriculture and food security, it is a pity that these events clash. Perhaps securing a video or virtual link-up between the two events on 17 October should be a priority?

Partnerships events will be the order of the day at EDD 2012, with proposals being assessed on their strategic content, messaging, and inclusiveness e.g. working with Southern partners. A further incentive for collaboration will be cost: the Commission has also announced a ‘carbon off-set’ fee of €3,000 per HLP and €1,000 per other proposed EDD event. This will be a major barrier to individual applications (at least for small civil society organisations).

The EDD 2012 will be a unique opportunity to engage with the Brussels development policy community and their partners about sustainable and inclusive growth. This briefing set out that for those of us who want to be at the event, there is much work to be done. The deadline for submitting HLP and other proposals is 23 May.

For more information about the EDDs, or to apply to host an event, go to: www.eudevdays.eu

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