From our Director | Thematic focus >

Four thematic priorities shape the work of the Centre’s programmes. These are areas in which ECDPM believes it can contribute decisively to improving relations and cooperation between the EU and its member states and the ACP Group and member countries.

Thematic priority 1: Reconciling values and interests in the external action of the EU

This theme responds to the EU’s ambition to better integrate its development objectives into the various aspects of its external action. The challenge is to do so successfully at a time when the EU is struggling to overcome the financial crisis and redefine its role on the global stage.

In 2013, ECDPM played a major part in stimulating reflection on EU development policy beyond aid, on policy coherence for development (PCD), and on the design of a new post-2015 global development agenda. Our extensive work on PCD, in particular, has been recognised as furthering thinking in this field.

The Centre’s programmes strategically engaged with a range of actors and institutions in the EU and ACP, particularly in Africa, in the role of non-partisan knowledge broker and process facilitator. Our independent analyses resulted in better informed policy debates – on the internal review of the European External Action Service (EEAS), on the new EU development framework and on EU policies related to food and nutrition security, conflict prevention and statebuilding, and economic governance and trade within the African and ACP context. Our timely analyses on EU external action paved the way for productive engagement of African and ACP partners in negotiations with EU counterparts. 

Thematic priority 2: Promoting economic governance and trade for inclusive growth

Our second priority theme recognises the need for development to move beyond mere economic growth towards inclusive and sustainable economic transformation. ECDPM was active in various policy arenas to deepen, discuss and share knowledge about the social, economic, institutional and political drivers of economic transformation. Our political economy analysis of regional integration, for example, was recognised as particularly valuable by a number of key African and European stakeholders.

Many African governments have re-engaged with the private sector, and Europe has embraced the private sector as a powerful driver of growth and development. In 2013, we focused on private sector development and effective public sector support for improving the business and investment climate. Programme priorities included extractive industries, regional integration and trade facilitation, given their relevance for economic transformation. The impact of emerging economies on African and the ACP’s relations with traditional partners was also factored into our analysis and networking.

We contributed to global policy debates by combining our understanding of these different areas with our longstanding expertise on economic governance and trade for inclusive growth. ECDPM’s knowledge of the role of extractive industries in economic transformation, for example, led to requests from a range of stakeholders – in Africa, Europe, Asia and North America – to contribute to high-profile meetings and reports. 

Furthermore, the Centre continued to be a key source of independent, publicly available information on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations, indirectly helping both African and EU negotiators to frame solutions and strategies towards the conclusion of EPAs.

Thematic priority 3: Supporting societal dynamics of change in developing countries

This theme relates to local initiatives for change and development, placing strong emphasis on the interface between state and non-state organisations. Our engagement here was driven by the knowledge that development processes should first and foremost be propelled from within the country and within the region.

In 2013, the Centre’s programmes systematically engaged in strengthening local dynamics of change. We focused especially on Africa, where persisting turmoil in many places has underlined the need for African governments to strengthen their responsiveness to socio-economic demands.

The Centre rooted its work in analyses of political and socio-economic change dynamics at the local level. At the institutional level, we worked with the AU and the EU towards greater involvement of civil society in Africa-EU relations. At the level of civil society, we worked closely with regional farmers’ organisations on food security. In the Sahel, we worked with both government and civil society to promote dialogue in the context of the Mali crisis. In Madagascar and North Africa, we engaged in activities to support regional reforms and strengthen the capacity of civil society.

Our approach – via political economy analysis and direct collaboration with both official institutions and civil society – contributed to a better understanding of local dynamics, and thus to more effective brokerage of knowledge and sensitive facilitation of processes.

Thematic priority 4: Addressing food security as a global public good

Our final theme concerns food and nutrition security and its recognition as a global public good. The international community has re-emphasised the need for governments to prioritise agriculture and to encourage the agricultural sector to play its vital role in provision of adequate food and nutrition. However, to make this happen, a structural transformation of the agricultural sector is needed, particularly in Africa.

The Centre actively stimulated debate and international cooperation to advance food and nutrition security and sustainable agricultural development. We focused on understanding the social, economic, institutional and political economy drivers behind food and nutrition insecurity. We worked with a range of institutions and regional organisations, in Africa, Europe and beyond, to realise the potential of regional cooperation and trade, of public-private partnerships, and of more effective support from development partners including the EU and its member states.

In 2013, much of this work involved implementation of the regional dimensions of the AU’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). In West Africa, for instance, we worked with local researchers and ROPPA (the Network of Farmers' and Agricultural Producers' Organisations of West Africa) to assess the region’s progress towards the CAADP goals. 

Although the Centre started working in the area of food and nutrition security only two years ago, we are already recognised as a leading contributor to debates on regional agricultural and trade processes. This led to frequent invitations to participate in international food and nutrition security fora.

From our Director | Thematic focus >