Outcome of the First International Development Discussion Group Meeting

By Adrian Mangiuca
posted on September 19, 2013 in Global Development

International development presents foreign policymakers with complex questions. These are not simply questions of economic growth or public health, but of deep-seated conflicts, war-torn societies, and convoluted geo-political exigencies. The term development, as such, is itself highly contested and almost permanently in flux.  It is these complicated questions that YPFP’s new International Development Discussion Group hopes to tackle.

The group’s first meeting was held on Wednesday, the 21st of August, and covered some of the broader issues concerning the international development field today. The conversation began by discussing the UN High Level Panel Report on the post-2015 development agenda, which presents a plan for global actors to shift gears on their approach to fighting poverty in the period to 2030. As the meeting progressed, differing definitions of development, a field which has changed dramatically (and many times) since World War II and the Marshall Plan, were extensively discussed. The group agreed that methods of aid such as microfinance, social impact investment, and direct giving have resulted from thinking about development in new terms. The diversity of these programs bespeaks the breadth of the field itself.

Indeed, the group’s most important strength is the diversity of its membership. A strong showing of 15 individuals brought as many professional, academic, and experiential backgrounds to bear on a topic which cannot be encapsulated within one government bureau, or one school of thought. Indeed, that was among the most important conclusions of the conversation—marines cannot effectively oversee infrastructure projects in Afghanistan without the help of independent auditors, just as field-researchers cannot direct their questions to actors on the ground without the help of economists in the home office.

Development is a multifaceted, interdisciplinary venture, and the outcomes of the conversation on Wednesday reflected the simple fact that as more perspectives are brought to the table, the outcomes of the discussion improve.

In the future, the group seeks to work within YPFP to produce quality content for the blog, bring high-impact speakers to open events, and generate ideas which impact the conversation in the DC International Development Community.

The next IDDG meeting will take place on Tuesday, the 24th of September, and applications are still being considered.

Finally, if you would like to follow upcoming discussions please note that all meetings and events will be live-tweeted @YPFP_IDDG / #YPFP_IDDG.