The Wrong Way? Forging New Paths for Development

Letter from the Co-Chairs

The 19th Annual Inter­na­tional Devel­op­ment Con­fer­ence, “The End of Devel­op­ment?: Why Inter­na­tional Devel­op­ment Must Adapt or Fail,” held on April 12–13, 2013 on the Har­vard Kennedy School cam­pus, will explore both proven and inno­v­a­tive strate­gies to address the new devel­op­ment, eco­nomic, and polit­i­cal chal­lenges fac­ing the world today.

Dear Con­fer­ence Participant,

The Inter­na­tional Devel­op­ment Con­fer­ence at Har­vard Kennedy School of Gov­ern­ment is a yearly student-organized, student-run con­fer­ence ded­i­cated to fos­ter­ing a con­struc­tive dia­logue between lead­ing aca­d­e­mics, prac­ti­tion­ers, pol­icy mak­ers and stu­dents con­cerned with cre­at­ing a bet­ter world. The Con­fer­ence is hosted at the Kennedy School, the world’s lead­ing school of pub­lic pol­icy and home to Harvard’s Cen­ter for Inter­na­tional Devel­op­ment and is a joint effort between stu­dents at Har­vard and Carnegie Mel­lon University.

The theme of the 19th Inter­na­tional Devel­op­ment Con­fer­ence will be “The End of Devel­op­ment?” As the dead­line for the Mil­len­nium Devel­op­ment Goals approaches, inter­na­tional devel­op­ment is at a cross­roads, shaped by sev­eral pow­er­ful trends that are trans­form­ing the world, the chal­lenges fac­ing poor coun­tries and the field of devel­op­ment itself. In a new global econ­omy, global poverty is chang­ing from a divi­sion between coun­tries to divi­sions within coun­tries. Emerg­ing eco­nomic pow­ers are chal­leng­ing the West’s monop­oly on aid. A vari­ety of market-driven inno­va­tions are con­fronting tra­di­tional devel­op­ment mod­els. The impor­tance of pol­i­tics and insti­tu­tions is increas­ingly rec­og­nized in cre­at­ing effec­tive states, but with­out clear solu­tions. And an extra­or­di­nary spread of tech­nol­ogy and com­mu­ni­ca­tions in the devel­op­ing world has trans­formed the places where devel­op­ment prac­tice happens.

What the field of devel­op­ment will look like in 10 or 20 years is unclear. What is cer­tain is that the world of devel­op­ment prac­tice, and the world around it, are chang­ing fast. As the bound­aries between tra­di­tional devel­op­ment, the pri­vate sec­tor, and the pub­lic sec­tor increas­ingly blur, the future of devel­op­ment as a mean­ing­ful cat­e­gory is in doubt.

The 19th Har­vard Kennedy School Inter­na­tional Devel­op­ment Con­fer­ence will exam­ine these forces, and the new mod­els and new chal­lenges that are emerg­ing to tackle global poverty, and what the future of devel­op­ment looks like. It will focus on four key chal­lenges cru­cial are­nas that will be cru­cial to deter­min­ing the future of devel­op­ment practice:

RETHINKING COLLABORATIVE GOVERNANCE: As the world moves from G8 to G80, and we con­tem­plate devel­op­ment post-MDGs, how can the world find new, more effec­tive responses to supra-national chal­lenges such as poverty and cli­mate change?

THE NEW ROLE OF THE STATE: How can devel­op­ment get bet­ter at pol­i­tics and insti­tu­tion build­ing? What new part­ner­ships can be imag­ined to develop sta­ble democ­ra­cies and respond to eco­nomic chal­lenges across the world?

CHANGE AT THE GRASSROOTS: Meth­ods and prac­tices at the ground level are being trans­formed as economies develop and tech­nol­ogy spreads. What do these trends mean for the broad envi­ron­ment in which devel­op­ment takes place? What do they mean at the grass­roots level and how should devel­op­ment prac­tice respond?

NEW PUBLIC-PRIVATE DYNAMICS: How should tra­di­tional devel­op­ment orga­ni­za­tions and mod­els seek to inte­grate with new mar­kets and profit-based mod­els? What can the non-profit sec­tor learn from the pri­vate sector?

We hope you can join us for an excit­ing con­fer­ence, and look for­ward to see­ing you.

Best Regards,

Peter Har­ring­ton and David Garfunkel
The IDC Co-Chairs