Academic Breakfast organised by TRIALOG
On Wednesday 10 June TRIALOG, funded by the European Commission and the Austrian Development Agency, organised an Academic Breakfast Discussion in Brussels together with the University of Leeds at the time of CONCORD general assembly. Two academics, Dr. Simon Lightfoot from University of Leeds and Dr. Fabienne Bossuyt from University of Ghent met with numerous CONCORD members to share their research findings and discuss development cooperation trends in the EU13 region.
Rebecca Steel-Jasińska from the TRIALOG project opened the discussion and reminded the audience about TRIALOG’s work for the past 15 years supporting the civil society in the “new” member states of the EU.
Dr. Simon Lightfoot from Leeds University shared the main findings of his research on the topic of development cooperation of the “new” EU member states. Dr. Lightfoot highlighted that the EU influence was important in re-starting development assistance in these countries, but only in general terms and only at specific points in the enlargement process. He noted the importance of CSOs in putting the development cooperation high on the agenda in a country when they manage to identify a “common cause”.
Dr. Fabienne Bossuyt from the University of Ghent in Belgium presented her research findings concerning the impact some EU13 donors have had in Central Asia (specifically in Azerbaijan). In Central Asia the EU13 donors focus on poverty reduction and not on democratisation.
Inese Vaivare from the Latvian Development CSO platform LAPAS highlighted the diversity of development CSO actors in Europe and within the confederation CONCORD. In order to embrace this diversity, efforts have to be made to be able to work together, even when it comes to vocabulary and trying to avoid Brussels jargon. In her view some advantages for engagement in development cooperation that EU13 actors have, come from the fact that many people from the region have had the experience of living in a restrictive regime and being able to find non-financial ways to contribute to development.
Éva Bördős from the Hungarian development CSO platform HAND and from DemNet presented the role Hungarian state and civil society have played in international development cooperation. The year 2014 was a milestone for Hungary as in March the government adopted Hungary’s strategy on development cooperation and later that year the law on development cooperation and humanitarian assistance was adopted. The public knowledge about Hungary as a donor was also discussed. While 73% of the respondents of a public survey in Hungary had heard that Hungary provides humanitarian aid to other countries, only 43% had heard that Hungary also engages in supporting sustainable progress in less developed countries.
At the end of the panel presentations and discussion the participants discussed what academic research focus in the future would be useful for development CSOs in the region. Several ideas and topics were identified:
- the management of NGO networks;
- how to influence public attitudes and behaviour;
- the impact of global education projects;
- PCD and how it is related to other policies;
- compare the impact and results of projects implemented in partnerships to projects implemented by one country.