From designing to mobilizing: A New York development week that will matter

    A child at the Qab Elias camp in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. Bridging the gap between Syrian refugee camps and the United Nations means transforming talks and plans to real and definitive actions from the international community. Photo by: Eoghan Rice Trocaire / CAFOD / CC BY-NC-ND

    Aid and humanitarian workers can be indifferent to the high-level global development conversations in places like New York, Washington, London and Brussels.

    That position is understandable — Syrian refugee camps and the United Nations headquarters complex have little in common. It’s not always easy to trace the line from strategy talks and check writing to actually saving or improving lives.

    But I think we will find that this week’s conversations in New York are going to matter.

    One reason is the progress made toward setting a post-2015 global development agenda.

    Another is the actual mobilization of resources to advance partnerships for development.  

    Last year at this time, world leaders met on the fringes of the U.N. General Assembly to kickstart discussions on the post-2015 development agenda. The discussions were short on specifics, and officials used phrases like “establishing a vision” and “setting expectations” to characterize the talks.

    The Millennium Development Goals — and post-2015 agenda — were the focus of a series of events in New York this week. And one year later, the blueprint is coming into focus.

    Eliminating extreme poverty by 2030 will require the international community to focus on inclusive, sustainable growth. On peace and partnership. On governance and getting the job done on the MDGs.

    And that means a continued focus on women, children and the disadvantaged. On expanding health coverage, quality education and jobs especially for the world’s youth. On embedding climate change as well as disaster prevention into major development programs, particularly in urban areas.

    Those are just some of the priorities Devex heard as our team of correspondents interviewed policymakers (including European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs), aid officials and executives from development organizations and private sector companies this week.

    Uptown at the Clinton Global Initiative annual gathering, there was compelling evidence that we have advanced from last year’s theme “Designing for Impact” to this year’s “Mobilizing for Impact” by moving beyond just strategizing to meaningful partnerships that are bringing innovative development solutions to scale.

    While just last week, a new report from the United Nations Global Compact revealed some frustration among business leaders eager to influence the global development agenda, they — as well as their peers in government and the nonprofit world — appeared proud of ongoing development partnerships and energized over the promise of new ones.

    There’s no doubt that development leaders we spoke to, such as PATH’s Chief Strategy Officer Amie Batson and Save the Children President and CEO Carolyn Miles, weren’t just going through the motions this week at CGI.

    They lobbied for humanitarian access to Syria. For the passage of a U.N. arms treaty. And for an “outcome document” that puts world leaders further on the path of adopting a development framework that is global and lifts people out of poverty while protecting the environment.

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    About the author

    • Pete Troilo

      Former director of global advisory and analysis, Pete managed all Devex research and analysis operations worldwide and monitors key trends in the global development business. Prior to joining Devex, Pete was a political and security risk consultant with a focus on Southeast Asia. He has also advised the U.S. government on foreign policy and led projects for the Asian Development Bank and International Finance Corp. He still consults for Devex on a project basis.