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LIDC and The Guardian Development Debates


Organized by the London International Development Centre and The Guardian this debate series was launched in October 2016 and explores key issues in development, taking an interdisciplinary approach to discussing global issues. The debates are styled on the ‘Question Time’ programme format, with a focus on interactivity and dialogue, and are chaired by Bibi Van Der Zee, Editor of the The Guardian Global Development Professionals Network. Audience members are able to ask questions to the panellists and a networking and drinks reception follows each debate. The panel consists of a mix of academics, development practitioners, politicians and policy-makers from across the globe to give an understanding of the issues being discussed for a range of viewpoints.

Past debates

Can Aid Help Counter Violent Extremism and Terrorism?

The fifth debate of the series took place on Tuesday 5th December 2017 and the panel consisted of Almakan Orozobekova (PhD student at the renowned Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology researching the recruitment of foreign fighters to violent islamist groups), Dr. Sara Silvestri (Senior Lecturer in International Politics at City, University of London and is in charge of specialist courses on Islamism, religion and politics, and the EU), Dr Farid Panjwani (Farid is Director of the Centre for Research and Evaluation in Muslim Education (CREME) at UCL Institute of Education), Lucy Holdaway (Senior Peacebuilding Adviser at International Alert, a London based NGO focused on peacebuilding activities). See full details of the speakers here.

Context: Between the 1st January and 9th November 2017, 1,038 terrorist attacks took place across the globe leading to 6,656 fatalities.Increasingly in recent years, Western Governments have turned to aid as a way to prevent violent extremism and terrorism in low and middle-income countries, but can combatting poverty with aid really help counter violent extremism, or are our expectations of what aid can achieve unrealistic?
In 2016 the UN Secretary-General presented a Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism in which he called for an approach that combines security-based counter-terrorism measures with addressing the underlying drivers of radicalization and violent extremism. Watch the event recording here:

Does Short-term Volunteering Abroad do More Harm than Good?

The fourth debate of the series took place on Wednesday 11th October 2017 and the panel consisted of Tricia Barnett (Director at Equality in Tourism and previously Director of Tourism Concern for over 20 years), Dr. Jim Butcher (Reader in the Geography of Tourism at Canterbury Christ Church University and the author of ‘Volunteer Tourism: The Lifestyle Politics of International Development’), Alex Kent (International Director of Strategy at Restless Development, a youth-led development agency that sends volunteers from the UK to work abroad alongside national volunteers) and Professor Andrew Jones (Vice President (Research and Enterprise) at City University). See full details of the speakers here.

Context: From gap year placements and ‘voluntourism’ to the DFID funded International Citizen Service (ICS) scheme, in recent years there has been a rise in the number of people volunteering overseas. On the one hand, volunteering abroad promotes a sense of global citizenship, allowing people to explore other cultures and get involved in poverty reducing projects. On the other hand, short-term projects abroad have been dubbed ‘neo-colonial’ and potentially damaging to host communities Many have also questioned the motives behind volunteering itself, arguing that short term volunteering in developing countries serves to enhance a volunteer’s employability rather than helping those most in need. So does short term volunteering abroad do more harm than good? Watch the event recording here:

How Effective Are Public-Private Partnerships?

The third debate of the series took place on Monday 27th February 2017 and the panel consisted of Neil Jeffery (Chief Executive Officer at WSUP - Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor, a non-profit partnership between the private sector, NGOs and research institutions), Dr. Matti Kohonen (Principal Adviser (Private Sector) of Christian Aid, leading Christian Aid’s advocacy efforts towards the private sector in the Public Policy Department), Dr. Elisa Van Waeyenberge (Lecturer in Economics and Research Tutor at SOAS) and Prof Elaine Unterhalter (Professor of Education and International Development at UCL's Institute of Education). See full details of the speakers here.

Context:  In recent years there has been a rise in the number of partnerships between the public and private sector (PPPs) in international development, however, discussions around the efficacy of PPPs has become highly polarized. While PPPs have the potential to achieve greater impact in development outcomes by harnessing the skills, experience and knowledge from government and non-state actors, they also provide developing countries with a means of accessing additional financial resources to deliver on projects and programmes. So what are the requirements that need to be in place for successful public-private collaborations? Watch the event recording here:

Are Slum Free Cities Achievable?

The second debate of the series took place on Tuesday 31st January 2017 and the panel consisted of Professor Julio D Dávila (UCL's Development Planning Unit), Amina Khan (Overseas Development Institute), Anna Walnycki (International Institute for Environment and Development) and Himanshu Parikh. See full details of the speakers here.

Context: On the one hand, slums give people opportunities, allowing them to move to cities, driving economic growth and lifting societies out of extreme poverty; however, they can also lead to overcrowding and squalid conditions resulting in problems of inadequate sanitation, poor health and social unease.Is it possible to have slum free cities and should developing countries be focusing on upgrading slums or eradicating them? Watch the full recording of the debate here:

Are We Getting Development Aid Right? 

The first debate of the series took place on Thursday 27th October 2016 and the panel consisted of Professor Stephen Chan (SOAS), Professor Kara Hanson (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), Fatimah Kelleher (Wise Development) and Stephen Doughty MP. See full details of the speakers here:

Context: At the moment we have "official" development aid (ODA) provided by traditional donors such as DFID and development aid from all other sources including private companies and philanthropic foundations. As these "non- official" donors grow in power and influence we need to question, does this system of aid work? Over 150 world leaders have signed up to the Sustainable Development Goals which will require huge development financing, beyond the reach of ODA. So is this the moment to ditch ODA and move onto an entirely new system of aid? Watch the event recording here: