The Development Policy Centre is a think tank for aid and development policy based at the Crawford School. The centre researches and promotes discussion of aid effectiveness, the Pacific and PNG, and development policy.
The HC Coombs Policy Forum is a strategic collaboration between the Australian Government and ANU, at Crawford School of Public Policy.
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By Ashlee Betteridge
Does Australian aid have a role in an increasingly prosperous Asia? How can we harness aid to address international public goods challenges, like climate change? As we look beyond the Millennium Development Goals, how should we formulate a new global development framework and what should it include?
These were just some of the thought-provoking questions discussed at The future of international development in Asia and the Pacific conference, held at the University of Melbourne on 9-10 May.
The invite-only conference – co–organised by a group of partners that included the Development Policy Centre and HC Coombs Policy Forum in Crawford School - brought together a wide range of thinkers from around the globe to discuss the aid and development landscape in the region and the creation of a post-2015 development agenda. The event included a public forum titled Aid in the Asia-Pacific: Who needs it? Who pays? recorded by the ABC, to be broadcast as a Big Ideas program over the next few weeks. Ten ANU students received scholarships to attend the conference and public forum.
In keynote speeches at the conference, Dr Alison Evans, former director of the Overseas Development Institute, discussed convergence, divergence and why poverty and inequality is still critical to address in a rapidly changing world. Dr Jimmie Rodgers, Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, spoke on the challenges and opportunities for development in the Pacific islands.
Amidst other prominent speakers and panellists, Professor Stephen Howes, Director of the Development Policy Centre, argued that Australia needed to make its relationship with the Pacific less about aid while making aid a bigger priority in its engagement with Asia, redefining some of the narratives laid out in the recently released Asian Century white paper.
The 10 students got the chance to meet some of the world’s leading experts in aid and development, as well as develop networks among professionals in their field.
“The conference provided an excellent opportunity to gain insights on what the future holds for international development in the Asia Pacific region and to participate in this crucial debate through social media,” said Manny Zhang, and undergraduate student.
“It was reassuring to see a strong consensus on giving priority to reducing inequality and tackling the climate problem and it seems that we’ve made ground on formulating a tentative framework for the post-2015 agenda.”
William Lutwyche, another undergraduate at ANU, added: “listening to development experts from around the world comment on the importance of the MDGs post-2015, has helped me understand the relevance of my current research and motivated me to continually pursue my passion for international development.”
PhD scholar Belinda Thompson said: “the conference provided an invaluable opportunity to speak directly to global experts in the field. Getting to speak to the thought-leaders in international development about the current state of play wasn’t just fascinating; it gave me new ways of thinking about my PhD and a revitalised understanding of the aid world.”
The conference and public forum was developed through a collaboration between the Development Policy Centre and the HC Coombs Policy Forum within Crawford School of Public Policy, and the University of Melbourne’s Nossal Institute for Global Health, the Lowy Institute and the Asia Foundation. Videos of the event will be available soon.