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.
150 participants from 22 different countries attended the conference “Rethinking Development Cooperation” which offered a multi-faceted platform to discuss and exchange critical ideas about the challenges and prospects of development cooperation. The program combined keynote lectures from research and policy, high-level panel discussions and a comprehensive open-space process, during which the role of research and higher education institutions in the context of development cooperation was discussed.
The conference was organised jointly by the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) and the DAAD-funded program “Higher Education Excellence in Development Cooperation – exceed”.