The EU is the biggest donor of the official development assistance in the world. Four years after the adoption of the Agenda for Change (the European Commission’s blueprint to refocus its development aid to make sure that it reaches those sectors and countries which need it most), 2015 is the ideal time for donors and stakeholders to come together to look at what has been achieved so far, and most importantly, what still needs to be done.

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Despite the current economic downturn, support for development remains high across the EU, with some 85% of EU citizens saying that Europe should continue helping developing countries despite the economic crisis, according to a recent Eurobarometer survey (Euractiv.)

The European Year of Development 2015 will be a key opportunity to raise awareness of development across Europe, and to show European taxpayers know that every euro spent on development benefits both people living in some of the world’s poorest countries, and EU citizens themselves.

The European Year for Development 2015 is the first year designated with such a global theme, since European years have been designated thematically since 1983.

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Pupils playing outside a school built with EU funds in Haiti

The initiative originated in Latvia. The European Year for Development 2015 will take place in Riga on 8 January, as part of the events marking the beginning of the first Latvian Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Commission representatives, communication experts, as well as figures from the NGO and business sector all agreed that the European Year for Development 2015 should provide an opportunity to reach out to a wider public regarding the importance of the development agenda. Possible new alliances are being sought with youth and women’s organisations, local authorities, and unions.

The various events during the European Year of Development will focus on 12 themes. The month of January will be dedicated to the theme “Europe in the world”, February will focus on “Education”, March on “Women and Girls”, April on “Health”, May on “Peace and Security”, June of “Sustainable green growth, decent jobs and businesses”, July on “Children and youth”, August on “Humanitarian aid”, September on “Demography and migration”, October on “Food security”, November on “Sustainable development and climate action” and December on “Human rights and governance”.

Among the major events of the European Year of Development are a Belgian opening event with Bozar and Africalia to be held on 17 January, a gender event in Latvia on 2 March, the European Development Days on 2-3 June, as well as a closing event by the Luxembourg presidency on 8 December.

In addition, the Committee of the Regions highlighted another major event, called “Assises of Decentralised Cooperation”, to be held on 1-2 June in Brussels, with 800 to 1000 participants, many of whom would come from developing countries.

Follow #EYD2015 and on Twitter and their Facebook page for more updates.

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