Thoughts from the Global Development Forum

Last week, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) held a day long forum on global development. The Global Development Forum brought together professionals from every sector and created a discussion surrounding the fast changing face of international development.

IdEA attended the forum to hear what people had to say about the future of development. One panelist whose comments particularly resonated with IdEA’s goals, was Ms. Amina J. Mohammed, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning, spoke on a panel discussion entitled “Global Priorities for the Sustainable Development Goal Agenda” and brought a fresh perspective to the conversation. We know that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) showed impressive progress towards global poverty reduction, but, according to the United Nations, efforts are still needed to reduce maternal mortality, alleviate hunger, and keep children in school, among others.

Ms. Mohammed talked frankly about the need to change the narrative surrounding development to put more focus on the lessons learned in the years leading up to 2015, how to put sustainable development with the necessary resources into real practice and how to better incorporate climate change into the development conversation. Attaining sustainable development goals is now trickier than ever with increased migration, a large and vocal youth cohort, a lack of jobs, growing exclusion and inequality, as well as increasingly complex conflicts worldwide.


“It is about investing, not in a piece of us, not in a reduction of poverty — but in the whole.” - Amina J. Mohammed, UN Secretary-General’s Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning


In the face of this daunting task, Ms. Mohammed remained optimistic stating, “this is an incredible opportunity for transformation.” The new sustainable development agenda aims to be universal, by being self-driven by the nations themselves. Of this new agenda she said, “It is about investing, not in a piece of us, not in a reduction of poverty — but in the whole.” The way forward, according to Ms. Mohammed, is to create strong institutions by investing in our greatest asset, human capacity.

She points out the Ebola crisis as a prime example of how we, as an international community, failed to invest in systems, people and institutions. An emphasis on strengthening these resources at a global level will allow change to be accomplished at a local level. The end goal being that governments won’t have to choose between an investment in infrastructure or the health and education initiatives their citizens greatly need, but can invest in both as they are interdependent and complimentary to one another.

Global Priorities for the Sustainable Development Goal Agenda Panel

But how do diaspora populations fit into the new development agenda? Diaspora populations generally have higher incomes, are better educated and socio-cultural flexibility. Diasporas are a currently underutilized resource in the formal development efforts of countries worldwide. According to the World Bank, by 2016 diaspora populations are expected to remit $516 billion dollars to developing countries. Historically, the amount of money remitted has exceed that of foreign aid money spent by the United States. However, diaspora groups have more to offer than just remittances.

Their human capacity is valuable with unlimited potential to aid development. IdEA members such as Cuso International, which connects highly skilled volunteers to sustainable development initiatives, and the Ethiopian Diaspora Fellowship, which connects Ethiopian diaspora youth to fellowship opportunities in Ethiopia, use innovative ways to increase the capacity of communities in developing countries. Diasporas offering mentorship to entrepreneurs or students in their countries of heritage remit back knowledge that may not be attained otherwise. IdEA members such as the Irish Executive Mentoring Program (IEMP) enable this wealth of knowledge to flow from diaspora members to Ireland. MicroMentor, an online mentoring platform, has a dedicated IdEA page for diaspora members to connect and share valuable biz resources. The influence of diaspora communities on development can be expressed in many more ways than just a dollar amount. The inclusion of diaspora communities into the development of human capital, improvement of systems and the funding of infrastructure may be the key to catalyzing positive change worldwide.

Let us know what you think about including diaspora in development with the hashtag #IdEAs4development

Click here if you would like to see a recording of this panel discussion. Ms. Mohammed’s remarks start at 40:56