CARDET, the Cyprus Centre for European and International Affairs (University of Nicosia), the University of Malta, the University of Piraeus Research Centre, World Vision Romania, and KOPIN Malta organised the International Conference “Raising Awareness on Development Cooperation” that focused on the themes of development cooperation and development education.
The event took place within the framework of the EuropeAid Project “Raising Awareness on Development Cooperation” on November 4, 2011 at the UNESCO Amphitheatre of the University of Nicosia, Cyprus.
More than 120 representatives of local, European, international, private and public institutions, along with the civil society and the academic community, participated in the conference.
The main objectives of the International Conference were:
- to communicate the outcomes of the aforementioned project to major national and EU stakeholders in development education and development cooperation
- to inform stakeholders on the theoretical and the practical aspects of development education and development cooperation
- to propose good practices and potential initiatives for the implementation of development education and the promotion of development cooperation among EU institutions and EU member states
- to bring together stakeholders of development from various fields, and lay the foundations for their further cooperation in the promotion of development education and development cooperation
The Conference was divided in three sessions: thematic presentations, a panel discussion and a workshop.
Following introductory presentations from representatives of CARDET, the University of Nicosia and the Cyprus Ministries of Education and Foreign Affairs, experts from the European academic community and civil society delivered a series of presentations focused both on theoretical and practical aspects of development education and development cooperation. The presentations were linked with the project’s theoretical framework and deliverables, and provided an overview of how those deliverables could potentially be utilised by NGOs, universities and public institutions. Participants provided positive feedback on the first session through the conference evaluation questionnaires. One of the participants stated, “I am triggered to learn, investigate and act towards the promotion of development cooperation”. Furthermore, other participants emphasised the importance of revisiting the current educational models applied in the EU in order to address development issues.
Following the first session (thematic presentations), the panel discussion attracted valuable contributions on the prospects and challenges of development cooperation, both by the panellists and the audience. The panel was composed of representatives of the European civil society, the academic community, the Cyprus Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The multidimensional orientations of the panellists provided a wide range of views and approaches on the issues of cooperation between NGOs, academics and public servants, and the role of each stakeholder in the promotion of development cooperation. The views of the panellists triggered a fruitful discussion with the participation of the audience. Many participants accentuated the fact that there is absence of flexibility on behalf of the states’ authorities to encompass the NGOs in their developmental policies and initiatives. Nevertheless, as the panellists and the audience noted, the willingness of the public servants, NGOs and academics, to discuss those shortfalls and propose solutions to overcome them during the conference, demonstrates a positive progress for the promotion of a sustainable development framework in all aspects of the society.
In parallel with the panel discussion, a workshop was held, under the title “Development Education: Educating for a Fairer Future”. Participants had the opportunity to learn about the interconnection of local, national and international developments through trade as a case study, and to gain a new understanding of how individuals and countries are interconnected and interdependent. Learning about Fair Trade provided practical skills to participants in order to act as critical consumers. Participants were given a short overview of the Fair Trade module produced as part of the RADC project, showcasing its interactive features and opening up prominent points for discussion. Workshop participants showed interest both in the concept of “fair trade” as part of developmental progress and in the educational tools developed in the context of the RADC project.
Overall, the International Conference was successful both in attracting participants from a wide range of stakeholders and in building networks of collaboration among them. Beyond the educational and informational aspect of the conference, participants had the opportunity to meet each other, exchange views and ideas, and create prospects for further collaboration among them in the fields of development education and development cooperation. It has to be noted that, through the conference, academics and NGO activists from the partner countries established channels of communication which can help them develop projects and activities related to sustainable development.
The conference material can be accessed online here.