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Decolonising Development: Whose Voice, Whose Agenda? Online conference 22-24 May

Monday 22 - Wednesday 24 May, 2017

Online conference May 22 – 24 2017

Organised by Leeds University Centre for Global Development (CGD) and INTRAC

What can – or should – development achieve? Who decides what success looks like or how it should be measured? With the ratification of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, the list of urgent, interdependent and seemingly intractable global challenges seems only to grow. Addressing issues such as climate change, poverty, gender inequality or prolonged conflict is believed increasingly to depend on the capacity of stakeholders to form inter-organisational and interdisciplinary partnerships across academic researchers, donors, private sector, government and civil society practitioners.  Multi-stakeholder dialogue and collaborative processes – underpinned by knowledge sharing, pooled resources and expertise – are being promoted as essential modalities for achieving the SDGs in efficient, effective ways. Greater participation of, ownership by, and devolution to, Southern-based partners to set agendas, build local capacity and identify solutions is being lauded as the way forward to address the growing chorus of concern around how to ‘do development differently’.

Yet to what extent are the assumed democratic, creative principles of partnerships borne out in practice and whose values, knowledge and evidence count in decision-making and evaluation processes?  Research undertaken amongst Leeds CGD members and INTRAC and the Task Team on CSO Development Effectiveness and Enabling Environment in diverse development contexts exposes the complex power dynamics and contradictions often inherent in multi-stakeholder initiatives. The research demonstrates that donor funding environments and imperatives, and different priorities and approaches to development, affect how ‘impact’ is conceptualised and measured, how results are interpreted, how change pathways are established, and whose ideas and voices are included or excluded. Recent working papers, seminar series, edited collections and books (produced largely by Northern institutions) contribute to this debate.

It is time to widen the debate and encourage an open, frank discussion to engage critically with the questions of why we ‘do’ development; who decides what development is; what types of development we are arguably feeling forced into promoting; and what type of development we want to see.

Join us for a major online conference on May 22nd to 24rd 2017. The conference provides a unique opportunity, bringing together diverse actors from around the world, working in development practice, policy and research.

The conference will focus on three interrelated themes:

Power, voice and inclusion

Accountability, evidence and ‘impact’

Partnership and capacity building

Please see here for further details on the conference themes

The conference will provide a safe, mutually supportive space to:

  • Engage in a dynamic, critical discussion around the three themes
  • Share key concerns and experiences relating to the challenges of development and the achievement of the SDGs
  • Identify innovative strategies for doing development differently
  • Share lessons and good practices for enabling more inclusive, effective development approaches
  • Contribute to a new high-profile publication

How will it work?

The online conference will bring together participants from diverse countries and different areas of development, including research, policy, advocacy and practice. Dynamic real-time discussions on critical themes and questions will be animated by key contributors throughout the three days (to be announced).

How can you participate?

Are you asking similar questions within your own work and activities? Or are there other questions this changing development landscape is raising for you that can be usefully answered or addressed through dialogue and partnership?

If so, register your interest in our online conference by email to