European Development Days 2019
The European Development Days, organised by the European Commission, is Europe´s leading forum on development that is held every year since 2006. The event brings together the international development community to share ideas and experiences in ways that inspire new partnerships and innovative solutions to the world´s most pressing challenges. This year, 8000 people gathered under the title “Addressing inequalities: building a world which leaves no one behind“.
For a tenth consecutive year, the European Network of Political Foundations (ENoP), took part in the event through sharing the stance of political foundations on democracy support, sustainable development; as well as exchanging best practice examples.
ENoP attended the panel on ’’How electoral processes can promote inclusivity and build stronger alliances’’. The panel focused on the role of Election Observation Missions (EOMs) as litmus checks for democratic governance. In this context ENoP representatives highlighted the importance of more democracy-related actions beyond EOMs due to the limitations of the latter, provided the need of consent of national government to accept the Mission; as well as the election frequency (every 4-5 years). Democracy actions need to happen throughout the entire electoral cycle and in-between elections with the active participation of civil society.
Furthermore, human rights and democracy are interdependent and thus it is important to have a democratic enabling environment in order for human rights to thrive. This implies attaching equal importance to democracy and human rights actions. The SDGs and Agenda 2030 should strive to achieve sustainable democratic development.
In the context of democracy and sustainable development, the issue of enabling environment for political actors and civil society has been raised. One of the main components of enabling environment is the presence of freedom of assembly and media pluralism. The panel on journalism for development took up the issue of positive journalism for development as part of the Lorenzo Natali Media Prize. Shada Islam, Friends of Europe and panellist at the session, identified several rules for journalists, working for sustainable development to follow, namely:
- Rely on facts, bring emotion and empathy
- Bring people from the local communities to the table
- Invest not only funds, but also efforts
- Abstain from using a patronising narrative
- Do not turn people into victims, but speak about them as empowered
- Show good stories rather than only bad ones
- Address poverty, but keep the dignity of people
Another important panel, organised by OECD, dealt with the pressing issue of financing for development and gender equality. The panel was entitled ‘’Putting finance to work for gender equality and women’s empowerment’’. Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls requires an important source of financing; and investing in gender equality should be considered as a ‘’global public good and pre-requisite of inclusive, sustainable development for all.’’
Commissioner Neven Mimica, a patron of the event stated that ‘’Inequalities penetrate all aspects of life and all countries. Behind every number, there are real people’’. In his strong speech, he highlighted the importance of addressing those issues jointly and in creating positive journalism that contributes to overcoming cleavages in society.
Queen Mathilde of Belgium addressed inequalities from a different angle, including special attention to disadvantaged groups, youth and mentally challenged people.
The EDDs brought to light existing gaps in the work towards attaining the SDGs, but it also showed positive examples and determination from the development community and partner countries. It is clear that developmental challenges can only be addressed and overcome if we work jointly and create more partnerships.