porInese Vaivare, Directora da LAPAS
a 01 MAR 2015

EYD2015: How was born this European Year?

The idea of the year 2015 as the year devoted for development cooperation issues was started three years ago as a proposal from Latvian Platform for Development Cooperation LAPAS – ex-director Māra Sīmane and our member organisation European Movement – Andris Gobiņš. The proposal was immediately brought to CONCORD and Andris Gobiņš as a representative in European Economic and Social Affairs Committee informed this institution. At this point more active process started at European level – involving all possible organisations, institutions and persons possible.

From my personal opinion there were several success factors for ability to achieve the result. The first – very objective reason – that in 2015 development coopration is facing and important process of post2015. I remember than two years ago we even could not imagne at what point we will be in 2015 in MDGs process – will new framework be adopted, what questions will be crucial to be debated?

The second – also very logical reason to focus on informing general publics about the results and achievements of development cooperation was the impact of economic dowturn on public opinion. People were facing more and more inequality, lack of financial resources and even economic crises within Europe. So the question – why would we keep to support the countries far away – was very important for many. We – people working in development understand that development cooperation is not only for development of others on our resources – this also our common obligation to support living in more fair world. And at the very end – it influences also our lives. For example, the crisis in Ukraine now leads that our defence budget will be increased – we face real militar threats from the country just right next to us. And it is our obligation to invest in Ukraine’s democracy and development.

We should not also undersestimate the role of the Commmsioner of Development – at that period – Andris Piebalgs from Latvia and other Latvians working in EU institutions and organisations. And of course also CONCORD and its treasurer Marius Wanders who together with Andris Gobiņš took really active role to  advocate for this idea.

At the very heart of this success is not just a story of the process how very small country with very low development cooperation achieved the aim and the European Year for Development was announced. The content of the proposal was that NGOs should play and important role in the implementation process of this year. This should not be the year devoted to activities by PR agencies – this should be the year strenghtening NGO capacity and bringing forward their work. I am happy that in many EU countries NGO platforms have been announced as National Coordinators and National Beneficiaries. This proves that NGOs can be real partners and are already.

Wishing very successful European Year for Development to our Portugeese friends! Hoping to have more cooperation projects!