ECDPM in 2012: Staying on track in

challenging times

Geert Laporte ecdpm

Development thinking is entering a new phase. The traditional aid provision system is gradually being replaced by new approaches to international cooperation, which focus on the pursuit of common interests in an increasingly multipolar world. In the field of international cooperation, policies, practices and institutions are changing. Where new ‘rules of the game’ apply, there is a need for new tools, such as well- informed dialogue, different types of partnerships, institutional innovation and joint learning.

These are precisely the areas in which ECDPM is a recognised leader. ECDPM’s mission is to broker effective development partnerships between the European Union and the Global South, and to contribute to the transformation of European and international cooperation.

To target our efforts we organise our work around four thematic priorities, which in practice are translated into six Centre programmes:

1. EU External Action
2. Conflict, Security and Resilience
3. Economic Governance
4. Trade and Regional Integration 
5. Africa’s Dynamics of Change
6. Food Security

Key institutional developments
in 2012

ECDPM expanded its partnerships and networks to respond effectively to the changing global context. To kick-start our new strategy, we judiciously invested Centre resources to maintain our role as a non-partisan broker, knowledge provider and facilitator of dialogue. In terms of institutional relations and partnerships, the Centre looks back on a successful 2012 with four major achievements.

1. New partnerships with development foundations and Southern actors

We continued to diversify and deepen relations with multilateral organisations, Southern partners and development foundations. A highlight was work funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to evaluate the Think Tank Initiative (TTI). We also strengthened our commitment to our key Southern partner institutions: the ACP Group; the AU Commission and its implementation arm, the Planning and Coordination Agency of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NPCA); the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN); the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA); the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), the Institute of International Relations (IIR) at the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Trinidad and Tobago; and the Europe-Africa Policy Research Network (EARN) and 
its members.

2Consolidation of established institutional partnerships

To fulfil our mandate and act as an independent broker while also implementing our ambitious strategy requires sustained and flexible institutional funding. Through an intensive dialogue process with all of our longstanding institutional partners, the Centre managed to consolidate and even increase its sources of multiple-year institutional funding, mainly from middle-sized European countries, such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Luxemburg, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland.

3Diversification of our partnerships

ECDPM developed its partnership relations with EU countries, including some of the EU’s newest members.
As a result we will be entering into a new institutional partnership with Austria as of 2013, while our cooperation with Denmark was intensified. ECDPM efforts to engage with non-EU partners, particularly the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), resulted in our first cooperation agreement in which ECDPM acted as an independent sounding board on policies and practices relating to EU development and external relations.

4. Strategic engagement with EU presidencies

The importance of the EU presidencies is considerably reduced in the new post-Lisbon EU institutional architecture. Nonetheless, the six-month, rotating presidencies still play a key role on a number of issues that fall within ECDPM’s remit. One of these is ACP-EU relations. Our support to the Danish and Cyprus EU presidencies in 2012 raised ECDPM’s visibility and impact on various important EU processes.

Our Main Partnerships

ACP Group
Africa Governance Institute (AGI)
AU Commission 
Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS)
Europe-Africa Policy Research Network (EARN) and
its members
European Think Tank Group (ETTG), comprised of the German Development Institute (DIE), European think tank for global action (FRIDE), the Overseas Development Institute and ECDPM 
Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN)

Institute for Security Studies (ISS)
Institute of International Relations (IIR) at the University of the West Indies 
Levy Mwanamasa Centre
Observatoire de l’Afrique and it's members
OECD Development Finance Network (DEFINE)
Planning and Coordination Agency of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NPCA)
South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA)
Shridath Ramphal Centre at the University of the West Indies 


Our 4 Themes


Theme 1: Reconciling values and interests in the external action of the EU

In this thematic area, the Centre played major roles in 2012 in stimulating reflection on development policy ‘beyond aid’, on policy coherence for development and on the design of a new framework for the post-2015 development agenda, that looks beyond the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Specific contributions by ECDPM programmes included providing analysis and training support to the EU and its member states with a view to enhancing the institutional and political capacity to deal effectively with conflict and fragility; exploring the linkages between trade reform and regional integration; contributing to a better understanding of social dynamics in democratisation processes in North and sub-Saharan Africa; and understanding the impact of EU agricultural and trade policies on food security. In performing these roles, we systematically linked up with a large number of relevant institutions in both the EU and the South, including the European External Action Service (EEAS) as the central player in Europe’s external action. In addition we also established new relationships with global players such as Japan, the USA, China, India and important foundations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). Our work on reconciling values and interests was picked up by several influential players and the international media during the year.

Theme 2: Promoting economic governance and trade for inclusive growth

A second ECDPM theme examines how improved economic governance can promote structural transformation and enhance inclusive growth. In 2012, we helped improve understanding on key issues such as domestic resource mobilisation, development finance, the roles of the private sector in development, business facilitation, and measures for enhanced transparency in the sector of natural resources and extractive industries. ECDPM also continued to explore how EU trade policies affect growth and development opportunities in an ACP context. We facilitated dialogue on regional integration in Southern Africa in the context of the EU-South Africa Strategic Partnership through applied political economy analysis. Where relevant, the impact of emerging players such as China on the relations between Africa and its traditional partners was factored into our research and networking.

Theme 3: Supporting societal dynamics of change related to democracy and governance in developing countries, particularly in Africa

Across the Centre’s different programmes, staff systematically engage in strengthening local dynamics of change in the ACP and Africa, focusing on two levels in particular: official institutions and civil society. At the institutional level, ECDPM contributed, among others, to the launch of the African Governance Platform of the African Union (AU) and to the proposed new Pan-African Programme (PAP) in the framework of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy. At the level of civil society, we built partnerships and strengthened cooperation with regional farmers’ organisations in East, Central and West Africa under the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP); with the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), a network of 16 national nodes representing Eastern and Southern African researchers; as well as with private sector, government and media representatives. In 2012, the Centre also carried out its first activities in Northern Africa with the launch of a new research stream on the political and socio-economic dynamics of political reforms. We also published a well-received study of societal dynamics in fragile and conflict prone situations.

Theme 4: Food security as a global public good

Insecurity over food is not a technological or economic problem. It is a societal problem of all times. The 2008 food riots in several developing countries have again underlined this. Since, the looming threat of another global food price crisis, with potentially devastating consequences for food-insecure countries and regions, especially in Africa, has captured the attention of the international community. ECDPM plays an active role in stimulating debate and international cooperation to boost sustainable agricultural development and food security in Africa. Particularly, we look at the potential of African regional cooperation, actions carried out by the EU and other Northern countries and public-private partnerships. Staff focuses on enhancing political dialogue, process facilitation and synergies between different policy domains for the implementation of the regional dimensions of the CAADP, publishing regular policy briefs in this area. Furthermore, the Centre facilitated frank CAADP-related dialogues on issues such as the importance of regional food markets and coordination between trade and agriculture policies and programmes in Africa. This led to the first-ever Joint Conference of AU Ministers of Agriculture and Trade.

Read more about our partnerships and institutional relations in 2012 in the Partnership and institutional relations report.