porConcord President Johannes Trimmel
a 01 MAR 2015

EYD2015: Time for a new conversation on global development

It’s great to see that Plataforma ONGD and civil society in Portugal are interested in the European Year for Development 2015.
The first thing I’d like to say that the European year is not a “Brussels thing” or something only for the bubble of development professionals who already know the sector.

If the European year is going to be successful and improve citizen attitudes on development, then it needs to communicate in clear language with citizens that we are in fact talking about international development cooperation.

When the average EU citizen hears us speak about development, does he think of property development, product development, photo development or personal development, perhaps?

The first ever 'European year' on the external policy of the EU provides an extended opportunity to tell real life stories about development and global justice with citizens, including many who may either have limited knowledge about the scope and results of European development cooperation or who reject the notion of investing resources in reducing poverty in faraway countries at a time of suffering at home.

These will sometimes be difficult conversations but are essential to better understanding what motivates the thinking of our dialogue partners and explain what motivates ours. This way we can build bridges between opposing mind-sets.

For CONCORD, it should not just be a dialogue about "what Europe gives", but also about how Europe lives, in other words how our lifestyles, our consumer decisions, our trade, agricultural and economic policies in Europe affect global development.

2015 is a milestone year for international development issues. The UN millennium development goals reach their deadline and negotiations will be concluded for a new post-2015 framework of sustainable development goals. In 2015, global talks on measures to tackle climate change will culminate with the COP 21 talks in Paris in December. In 2015 we should underline why action on climate change is closely linked to development because its effects are already being felt disproportionately by those who are the least responsible for causing global warming but are the most vulnerable to its devastating consequences.

CONCORD will the civil society alliance of the year, bringing together a broad coalition of civil society organisations from across Europe and from across different sectors. This alliance will not only help to reach out to a large and diverse audience of EU citizens, but will forge new partnerships with other civil society sectors, leading to synergies from which we will continue to benefit in our work well beyond 2015.

The civil society alliance

  • Support national or regional civil society coalitions or actors in the implementation of European Year campaigns and activities and provide them with advice and coaching for shaping local, regional and national activities in Europe.
  • Continuously upload relevant content to the civil society section of the official EYD2015 website of the European Commission and engage in social media interactions in partnership with the Commission including taking account of the EYD2015 thematic months.
  • Develop civil society's own innovative campaigning and communication tools to stimulate a conversation and be easily adapted to local, regional and national contexts.
  • Ensure participation and contribution by civil society in centrally organised European events, including those organised by the incoming Latvian and Luxembourg presidencies.
  • Prepare policy recommendations based on input collected during year and project activities.

The European Year will be equally a moment to reach out to young people, trade unionists, the business community, consumers and others to discuss what our work outside Europe means to the issues they care about.