In search of a new development narrative: EADI Panel Report at Bonn Symposium 2012

Jürgen Wiemann, EADI Vice-President, Henning Melber, Dag Hammarskjoeld Foundation and Gabriele Köhler debated findings from the EADI General Conference 2011 at the Bonn Symposium entitled “Paradigm Shift 2015. Towards a New Sustainable Development Agenda” on 13 – 14 November 2012 in Bonn.

Panel report “In search of a new development narrative”:

With the expiry of the time frame for reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015, there is growing attention on finding alternative approaches or paradigms to achieving development. The joint conference of the Development Studies Association (DSA) and the European Association of Development Institutes (EADI) held in York in September 2011 was entitled ‘Rethinking development in an age of scarcity and uncertainty-values, voices and alliances for increased resilience’ ( The DSA-EADI conference was aimed at the generation of new narratives, new ideas and new ways of thinking about development from an interdisciplinary perspective. As part of the Bonn Symposium held in November 2012 at the Deutsche Welle and in light of the current discourse on the post-2015 development agenda, a workshop organised by EADI sought to stir a discussion on links between the outcomes of the EADI/DSA conference and aspirations towards global development or one world goals. The workshop explored how development is feasible in a world of uncertainty as exhibited by the ongoing financial crisis as well as how theoretical approaches can be useful in the realization of sustainability.

The panel was composed of Dr Jürgen Wiemann, a development economist and Vice President of EADI, and in his earlier professional life deputy director of the German Development Institute (DIE), Gabriele Köhler, also a development economist with vast experience as an economist and policy analyst at the United Nations namely in UNDP, UNCTAD and ESCAP and was moderated by Dr Henning Melber, the former director of the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation in Uppsala, Sweden.

The paper presented by Dr Wiemann points to the coincidence of the onset of the global financial and economic crisis in 2008 with the resource crunch and ecological calamities. Therefore, humankind is facing the well-known and widely accepted reality that the course to sustainable development needs to change, integrating resilience against shocks and disasters into international development cooperation.

Dr Wiemann presented the major issues of discussion at the York conference. Besides papers and panels dealing with the environmental challenges developing countries are facing and the implications for agricultural strategies, there was a focus on the development success of China and other developmental states mainly in Asia. Obviously, capitalism comes in new forms with a higher degree of government control and steering of economic development. Some of these new industrial countries, especially China, are playing a more assertive role on the global stage and as new donors of less developed countries, especially in Africa. This creates increasing competition with the old donors and the need for case studies in many developing countries on the behaviour of the new donors in contrast to the old ones. For some time, this arena will be quite rewarding for development scholars and for experts on individual developing countries. The assessment of the performance of the new donors is not very clear yet: Are they behaving like the old imperial powers in the colonial era, or are they combining their own interests (in access to critical resources) with a higher degree of interest in promoting real development of their partner countries?

Read the end of this report  in the conference report: