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Round table discussion on Political Foundations in Development Cooperation

18 March 2014

Hon. Petra Bayr (left) and Sidonie Wetzig (right)

Hon. Petra Bayr (left) and Ms. Sidonie Wetzig (right).

Brussels, Belgium – A round table discussion was held on the recently published Profile Paper “Political Foundations: Development Cooperation between State and Society” on 18 March 2014 in Brussels. The event was jointly organised by AWEPA’s Austrian Section, the North-South Dialogue of Parliaments, the Vienna Institute for Environment, Peace and Development (IUFE) and the European Network of Political Foundations (ENoP) Working Group “Development Assistance”. The ENoP was founded in 2006 and acts as a communication and dialogue institution between European political foundations and institutions of the European Union and civil society stakeholders in the fields of democracy promotion and development cooperation.

Hon. Petra Bayr, Austrian MP, Head of the AWEPA Section in Austria and Senior Parliamentary Advisor of AWEPA’s FGM/C Programme, opened the event. After describing the work of AWEPA, she highlighted the importance of bringing development policy into the forefront of national parliaments and ensuring policy coherence for development.

Afterwards, Sidonie Wetzig, Chair of the ENoP Working Group, presented the key findings of the publication, namely that political foundations can play an enhanced role in the development debate as they fill the gaps between public policies, globalized markets and civil society.  They offer services aimed at bridging states, public and private spheres. Globalisation and modern communications have rendered the world more integrated and interdependent; the role of citizens in this process has increased. However, effective development cooperation still needs to adjust to the fact that governmental structures often do not keep up with new global challenges.

Political Foundations therefore play a crucial role in shaping the political responses to economic, social and ecological challenges. In order to better illustrate their work in development cooperation, ENoP Working Group members presented at the round table best-practice examples of projects and activities they implemented on the ground.

The round table discussion was attended by Austrian parliamentarians, representatives from civil society organisations and state agency. The event, chaired by Johannes Steiner, Executive Director of the Vienna Institute for Environment, Peace and Development, concluded with an open discussion among the participants on how to improve the involvement of national politicians in development issues.

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