Sustainable development is increasingly recognised as a global, multi-sectoral endeavour and involves a growing variety of actors and their respective approaches. An ambivalent history of success, new modes of cooperation such as South-South cooperation and the need for transformation also in developed countries challenge conventional development cooperation’s goals, strategies and instruments. Critics from civil society and academia also raise more fundamental concerns. For instance, the Post-Development debate problematizes development cooperation as ‘anti-politics machine’ that conceals power relations and conflicts and that evades ownership of and accountability to beneficiaries and the public. In light of previous experience, critique and current dynamics, new understandings of which role development cooperation could or should have are still in the making. Research and higher education institutions have an important part to play in this. Their dialogue across countries, disciplines and with actors of development cooperation is essential.
The conference “Rethinking Development Cooperation” offers a multi-faceted platform for this much-needed exchange and critical reconsideration of the challenges and prospects of development cooperation. Its program combines keynote lectures from research and policy, high-level panel discussions on the future of development cooperation and on the role of development research, parallel working groups on a broad range of topics and a comprehensive open-space process for developing new ideas and collaborations. Participants represent universities and think tanks as well as governmental, civil society and philanthropic organisations that are part of and shape development cooperation, including many researchers and young professionals from the Global South.
The conference is organised jointly by German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) and the DAAD-funded program “Higher Education Excellence in Development Cooperation – exceed”. DIE is one of the leading think tanks for global development and international cooperation worldwide. Its work is based on the interplay between research, policy advice and training. The exceed program supports the development of competence centres by German universities and their partners in developing countries. It aims to strengthen these higher education institutions’ teaching, research, and services, such that they can contribute more effectively to the development goals of the United Nations.