Message from our Board Chair, P.I. Gomes
On behalf of the Board, it gives me great pleasure to commend the diligence and resilience demonstrated by ECDPM throughout 2011 and 2012, which culminated in the Centre securing continued funding
in early 2013. This achievement has no doubt been due, in part, to the positioning of ECDPM as an independent actor in an increasingly large arena of international cooperation, partner relationships and networks. There is growing evidence of the impact ECDPM has achieved – through successful facilitation and dialogue – in the ACP and Africa in particular where we have made significant and important contributions to achieving the goal, so clearly stated in the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement, and the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) of reducing, and ultimately eradicating poverty.
It is true that the relationship between Europe and the world has been changing. In many ways, Europe is preoccupied with development goals of its own, including safeguarding the standard of living of its citizens in light of the ongoing financial crisis. Nevertheless, it is in Europe’s interest, to continue to support the development policy agenda in the South. This is where, throughout 2012, ECDPM has taken a lead, particularly in addressing growing concerns about food security and issues relating to the extractive sectors, where Europe’s wide range of expertise and appropriate technology may be put to good use. In this regard, the Centre’s approach has been to encourage the growth and maturing of local institutions by supporting efforts to improve their governance structures. We believe such support to be of vital importance for the successful achievement of policy and practice goals. ECDPM remains confident that with the right knowledge and a strong commitment, these institutions will attain significant progress towards reaching their development objectives.
Moreover, the people for whom policy changes are intended should be fully involved in the processes of policy design, formulation, execution, monitoring and evaluation. They should have a real voice in all areas that will have an effect on their daily lives – for example, farmers’ organisations should dialogue with regional economic communities (RECs) on how to finalise common policies on agriculture. This gives an additional quality to those policies and it will therefore increase their impact.
Is Europe ready to have a different relationship with Africa and the world? That’s the type of question that has often been raised during 2012 and no doubt led to a great deal of reflection, but it may not yet have been made explicit. With regard to ECDPM’s future work, the Centre will foster awareness of the overall interdependence of Europe and Africa, the ACP and the Global South. There is no ambiguity in the statement that geopolitical relations have changed fundamentally over the 26 years of ECDPM’s existence.
We must acknowledge that countries in the ‘Global South’ have become more and more vocal in expressing their ambitions and interests and less and less inclined to accept the ‘one-size-fits-all’ recipes suggested by either Europe or other actors as they pursue their development. This entails the emergence of ‘new’ and diversified partnerships that are, in a very positive way, much more reciprocal, as are relationships between equals. It makes international cooperation all the more vital and dynamic, because now all stakeholders are sitting around the table. Europe has grown accustomed to being listened to, but it now must first sit up and listen, before presenting any proposals.
The ACP, the African continent and other developing world actors are now saying to Europe ‘Let us share our experiences and resources on peace, rural development, food security and new forms of governance. Then we can jointly develop the domestic resources we require as alternative paths of sustainable and equitable development are discovered in the interest of those most in need.’ The underlying challenge is to actively engage in such processes of change and transformation. ECDPM is dedicated to playing a leading role as a broker, a catalyst and a facilitator.
||Patrick I Gomez
Ambassador of Guyana to
the ACP Group of States and the EU