The importance of global development

What’s in store for the international development community this 2015? Photo by: Kyoshi Masamune / CC BY-NC

2015 promises to be a decisive year for global development. This week, though, brought somber reminders of the challenges the international community faces in advancing peace and opportunity for all.

In Colorado, a bomb exploded in front of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People headquarters. In Mexico, 13 police officers were detained in connection with the Jan. 2 kidnapping of a Veracruz journalist who had made a name for herself covering the country’s brutal drug war. In Nigeria, Boko Haram torched another village, and in Iraq, the Islamic State group attacked security forces in the central city of Samarra.

In France, police were closing in Thursday on the religious fanatics who killed two police officers and 10 employees of Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine known for poking fun at civil, political and religious leaders, including the Prophet Muhammad.

Are we in the middle of an increasingly destructive clash of civilizations? In talking about this week’s news, many commentators have invoked Bernard Lewis and Samuel L. Huntington, who famously spoke of a "clash of civilizations” in the early 1990s.

Whatever the case, this week’s events may serve as a reminder of the role international development cooperation can play in strengthening cross-cultural ties and understanding.

In many ways, 2015 could become a bellwether year for international cooperation. In September, world leaders are expected to sign off on a new set of sustainable development goals. Three months later, in Paris, they may finally agree on a climate deal to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which expired in 2012. In July, political leaders will meet with counterparts in business and civil society to figure out a way to pay for it all. Meanwhile, the OECD is exploring ways to better engage emerging donors and the private sector in development activities.

We’ll see the United Nations and a host of allies ramp up efforts to “sell” development to frugal politicians and a wary public. Traditional donors — from the U.S. government to the Asian Development Bank and way beyond — will seek new ways to partner with the corporate world. Integrator skills will be key for those seeking to compete on an increasingly competitive job market. The buzz will continue to be around results-driven, innovative, science-led development, whatever that means.

The distinction between local and global staff will continue to blur as aid groups “go local” and donors demand country-led development. More companies will seek to plug smallholders and other producers in the developing world into their supply chains; others will seek the help of government entities like the Japanese International Cooperation Agency or Overseas Private Investment Corp. to explore new markets abroad.

There’ll be a lot of talk about “finishing the job” on the Millennium Development Goals, which won’t all be reached by their deadline later this year. And there’ll be jostling for position as a lengthy laundry list of post-2015 goals is whittled down to a more manageable set.

And there’ll be meetings — lots of them — on the importance of governance as a prerequisite for development. From Afghanistan to Egypt, Nigeria to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar to Russia, and Syria to Yemen, we’ll see advocates focus on change.

New development players — like the planned Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank, which is led by the BRICS countries — will take center stage. Traditional foreign aid donors like the USAID will change — sometimes from within, but often compelled by the legislature.

In Washington, for instance, Republican Rep. Kay Granger from Texas, chairwoman of the House of Representatives’ powerful Appropriations Committee, hopes to bring more focus and structure to an agency she believes has expanded beyond its own good. (Watch out for Michael Igoe’s report in the coming days!) A few blocks across town, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim will continue to fight internal and external resistance to his ambitious reform plans.

Devex will seek to cover the inside scoop of these momentous developments. In the coming days, for instance, watch out for our analysis of outgoing U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah’s legacy, of Haiti’s development five years after the earthquake, and of the fight against malaria. Check back, too, for a thought-provoking look at the international community’s schizophrenic stance on funding coal projects and the next generation of global leaders.

And please share with us your news and opinions — from the board room to the field. Let’s work together to facilitate cross-cultural understanding and international development cooperation.

What do you think will be the most important development in 2015? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

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The views in this opinion piece do not necessarily reflect Devex's editorial views.

About the author

  • Rolf Rosenkranz

    Rolf Rosenkranz oversees a talented team of in-house journalists, correspondents and guest contributors located around the globe. Since joining Devex in early 2008, Rolf has been instrumental in growing its fledgling news operation into the leading online source for global development news and analysis. Previously, Rolf was managing editor at Inside Health Policy, a subscription-based news service in Washington. He has reported from Africa for the Johannesburg-based Star and its publisher, Independent News & Media, as well as the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, a German daily.