From leveraging disagreements to seeking consensus: Linda McAvan's 'unusual job'

Linda McAvan MEP, chair of the Committee on Development of the European Parliament. Photo by: © European Union 2014 - European Parliament / CC BY-NC-ND

Linda McAvan has an unusual job for a politician. Instead of looking to leverage partisan disagreements, she spends her time searching for consensus.

McAvan is chair of the influential Committee on Development of the European Parliament, a post she assumed following the 2014 parliamentary elections.

“In Westminster, the job is all about looking for difference, whereas in our job it’s the opposite,” she told Devex at a recent European Year of Development event at the EU House hosted by Bond, a network of U.K.-based nongovernmental organizations. “You’ll have a proposal on the table, and you need to create the maximum consensus to get that through, so you need to know where people are coming from.”

McAvan has been a member of the European Parliament since 1998, and much of her political career has been focused on the environment and climate change. Development, she said, is a far more challenging field, where not all the necessary legal frameworks are clear or even in place — which is “certainly the case” for the U.N. Summit to adopt the post-2015 development agenda in New York in September.

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  • Corinne podger profile

    Corinne Podger

    Corinne Podger is a media development practitioner with more than 20 years' experience reporting for high-profile news outlets including the BBC World Service, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the Economist. She works part time for BBC Media Action, the international charity of the BBC. Separately, as an independent consultant, she runs media skills training for a range of clients in her areas of expertise — social and multimedia, international news, science, health, climate change and religion.