Image credit: DfID (Flickr)

Image credit: DfID (Flickr)

The high-level event on women’s empowerment and sustainable development took place in Riga, Latvia, on 2 March. The event was jointly hosted by the European Commission and the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as part of the European Year for Development.  It aimed to identify possible solutions for ensuring women’s equal rights and access to the market and economic resources and for unlocking women’s economic potential.

We produced the conference background note, in which gender expert Helen O’Connell considered the following key issues:

  • why gender equality and women and girls’ rights matter in development;
  • where gender equality and women’s empowerment stand in development goals and frameworks;
  • the challenges for women’s economic empowerment;
  • four strategic interventions to empower women economically; and
  • the EU’s role in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment in global development.

Read the post on the European Year for Development website and watch videos of the conference.


Image: United Nations

Image: United Nations

The EU’s early experience with implementing State Building Contracts (SBCs) could provide a useful resource for donor agencies to inform their thinking on providing budget support in fragile states. A study by Myra Bernardi, Tom Hart and Gideon Rabinowitz draws preliminary lessons from case studies on the two largest SBCs adopted by the EU in sub-Saharan Africa: Mali, a country in transition after a period of crisis; and South Sudan, a chronically fragile country.

Read more and download the report here.

EU parliament electionOn 20 November 2014, we met to explore, review and establish expectations of the new EU leadership team and debate the priorities for EU development cooperation in 2015 and beyond. The discussion, chaired by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead in the House of Lords, was based on our report with the European Think Tanks Group: “Our Collective Interest”, which makes a strong case for a new development agenda, broader in its outlook and with strong links to internal EU policy. See more information here. Speakers debated such topics as the EU’s comparative advantage; future prospects for EU external action; and what initiatives the EU should take in 2015. Jeremy Lefroy MP was unable to join us, but prepared this commentary.

Read the event report here.

Credit: Breezy Baldwin, Flickr

Credit: Breezy Baldwin, Flickr

The EU’s Plan of Action on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Development (GAP) runs to December 2015 and discussions on what its successor should comprise are underway. Our latest paper, More of the same, or radical change? Options for the successor to the EU’s Gender Action Plan 2010-2015, makes the case for why the EU needs to accelerate action on gender equality and women’s and girls’ rights. It examines shortcomings in the current EU approach and draws on examples of best practice to develop proposals for a future framework and plan. It proposes three options:

  1.  A Gender Action Plan II that builds on the GAP, retains the focus on process alone, but aims to sharpen its focus.
  2. A Gender Action Plan Plus that emphasises accelerated and increased support focused on two priority gender equality, rights and empowerment areas to deliver tangible results relatively quickly.
  3. A new comprehensive framework and action plan comprising a more ambitious approach, that tackles the structural bases of gender inequality, its intersection with other inequalities and its impact on rights, and concentrates accelerated and increased investment in three to four essential programme areas (primarily in political and economic development) and on three key processes.

Regardless of the form the successor takes, the paper explains why it can no longer be regarded as a development aid matter, solely under the responsibility of the Development Commissioner. It concludes that a radical shift is needed in the EU’s approach to achieving gender equality and ensuring all women and girls have the right to participate fully in all spheres, which, in turn, will contribute to achieving sustainable development.

Download the paper here, or refer to our 2013 review on the implementation of the GAP here.

Credit: Friends of Europe

Credit: Friends of Europe

In a rapidly changing and interdependent world, Europe’s new leaders need to adopt a global perspective in European policy-making, a new understanding of the EU’s global role, and in particular, a new approach to international development. In this event hosted by Friends of Europe in Brussels on 10 September 2014, we asked whether the European Think Tanks Group’s 2014 report ‘Our Collective Interest: Why Europe’s problems need global solutions and global problems need European action’ offer the sort of answers needed.

See the programme here and watch a recording of the event here.

Chad food programme DG ECHO

Image: Rein Skullerud, Flickr

As the new EU leadership team prepares to take office in Brussels, we’ve joined forces with our partners in the European Think Tanks Group (ETTG) with our latest publication: ‘Our Collective Interest: Why Europe’s problems need global solutions and global problems need European action’.

In this report, 28 authors from the four think tanks argue that the EU’s ambitions for its own citizens – for prosperity, peace and environmental sustainability – cannot be divorced from its global responsibilities and opportunities. A collective effort is in our shared interest.

We identified five global problems which will shape the future of the EU and the world, and where the EU has a comparative advantage to act:

  • The world economy
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Peace and security
  • Democracy and human rights
  • Poverty and inequality.

Read the full report here and see this infographic for a summary of our recommendations. The executive summary is available in French, German and Spanish.

EU flag_destroyed schoolThe European Commission published its Communication on post-2015, ‘A decent life for all: from vision to collective action’, in June 2014. The EU Council is expected to agree ‘Conclusions’ in December. When the previous Communication was published in February 2013, our advice to the Council was to limit their Conclusions to six words: ‘thank you very much, we agree’. Read Simon Maxwell’s opinion on the June Communication and advice for the Italian presidency here.

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