International Conference “New Challenges for Cooperation of European and Developing Countries“

5 May

The conference New Challenges for Cooperation of European and Developing Countries: Contributions of the academic sphere, public administration, NGOs and the private sector, held on April 19th was organized in cooperation with the Faculty of International Relations and the Faculty of Economics and with the help of these departments – the Department of the Regional Studies, the Department of World Economy and the Center of European Studies.

The event was conducted under the auspices of Karel Schwarzenberg, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Richard Hindls, Rector of the University of Economics, Prague. In addition, the conference was held within the annual meeting of EADI (European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes).

The program of the conference started with welcoming speeches by Jakub Fischer, Vice-Rector for Development Strategy, University of Economics; Ivan Jukl, Director of the Economic Section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Štěpán Müller, Dean of the Faculty of International Relations, University of Economics; Miroslav Ševčík, Dean of the Faculty of Economics, University of Economics and Isa Baud, Director of the EADI organization.

The focus of the conference was set on the problems that affect the scope and possibilities of development cooperation nowadays; this meeting enabled the exchange of experiences among Czech and European universities, government officials, NGOs and experts from the private sector.

In the first part of the conference, three key note guests spoke about the current state of affairs in development studies research. Michel Carton (Graduate Institute in Geneva) focused on the direction of development cooperation in terms of the globalization process and growing competition of selected countries with uneven economic development. He stressed the increasing competition among institutions that train new experts on development issues, which in turn increase the competition between rich countries and developing countries in the South.

Andrew Summer (King’s International Development Institute, London) and Sergio Tezanos Vazquez (Spanish Network of Development Studies) highlighted, in their joint presentation, the importance of a new approach towards the taxonomy of developing countries, which is crucial for establishment of clear objectives in development cooperation. Their new multidimensional system of categorizing developing countries may replace that of the World Bank, which takes into account only income per person, but is nevertheless, currently the most used system in the world.

The conference brought many new ideas to research and teaching activities in the field of development cooperation. Significant attention was paid to Millennium Development Goals and their fulfillment in the present times. In the afternoon sessions, the issue of development cooperation focused on specific analyses regarding development cooperation from different spheres.

The participation of EADI experts and specialists paved the way to closer cooperation and involvement of Czech universities into a large group of European universities that deal with development cooperation and development studies.

The conference contributed to the creation of new forms and extent of Czech foreign policy, which implies an emphasis on development cooperation. The Czech Republic makes apparent efforts to link governmental, nonprofit and the private sector with the academic world leading to the systematic education of young people in development issues. Thus, the Czech Republic’s position within the DAC (Development Assistance Committee) is strengthening even though currently it is among the observer countries.

In the final speech, Isa Baud (President of EADI) stressed the need and importance to strengthen development studies and use of intensive collaboration within European universities and institutions. This would create the conditions for increasing the number of experts who could participate in the formation of development cooperation and implementation of projects.

The conference was positively perceived by young scientists and students from different Czech universities who enriched the conference’s content with their contributions and brought new insights to the current development cooperation.

Discussions that took place in the afternoon panels showed that the process of globalization affects, to a great extent, not only European development policy´s forms and trends. It was also shown that development policy and cooperation have to respond in time and on deeper levels with regard to the process of globalization taking into account not only economic issues but also social and cultural specifics.