The Founder and Executive Director of ACCORD, Vasu Gounden, was invited to be a resource person at a two day conference hosted by the Royal Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on the 24th and 25th of June 2008.
The MFA has recently started an interactive dialogue with Dutch civil society organisations about the future of the Dutch co-financing system. Almost 20% of the Dutch governmental budget for development co-operation is reserved for support to civil society organisations in the South. Mr. Gounden was one of two speakers from the South invited to address the conference (the second speaker was Julio Berdegué from Chile).
About 160 participants attended the conference, representing five major sectors in Dutch (non-governmental) development work: private sector, knowledge centres, migrant/diaspora organisations, Government Ministries and CSO’s involved in direct or indirect development work.
The object of the conference was to discuss six central issues (an enabling environment, accountability, learning capabilities, complementarity, division of tasks/responsibilities between North and South and consolidation of public support [for development efforts]). The results of the discussions from the conference will form the basis of input to a new policy document for the co- co-funding programme, to be ready by the end of 2008. Policies and organisational aspects of this will govern the programme for the period between 2010-2014.
The agenda was divided into two separate fields: on the 24th an analysis of major trends in the international context, potentially relevant to development practice of civil society organisations in the North and South, while discussion on the 25th concentrated on identifying the practical implications of these trends and developments for the various actors.
Me. Gounden was invited to address the conference on the 24th (en route to the Oslo Forum in Norway) on major trends and changes (based on the six issues) in the international context, identifying the main international (political, social, economic, cultural etc) trends impacting on the development debates/policies and the Northern and Southern Civil Society actors in development/poverty-related work.