EU-Africa relations: what’s in store for 2013?
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In international fora, many eyes are turned to the post-2015 MDGs debate. But the next two years will also be crucial in defining the direction of EU-Africa relations. As both sides prepare for the next summit between leaders of the two continents in early 2014, the inter-continental relationship clearly needs an overhaul. This year’s ECDPM ‘Challenges Paper’ on EU-Africa Relations
will focus on the preparatory work for the summit, the major issues that will influence it or be addressed there, and the impact these might have on future relations between the two continents. In an article on the Talking Points blog, ECDPM provides an initial indication of our plans for the paper that will be published at the end of the year. If you have a different take on EU-Africa relations in 2013 we would welcome hearing you.
Lost opportunity: African ministers of agriculture and trade meeting postponed
Unexpectedly, the African Union has postponed the joint conference of ministers of agriculture and ministers of trade scheduled to take place next week in Addis Ababa. Just four days before the conference was due to start the AU announced through a press release stating that the new dates will be communicated soon. ECDPM’s Francesco Rampa explains in an article on the Talking Points blog why this is a lost opportunity for both sectors to jointly boost intra-African trade and enhance food security. Emphasizing the importance of building bridges between agriculture and trade policies and processes, he presents a number of key messages on how synergies, linkages and complementarities could be better explored.
Natural resources: from curse to purse
Africa’s current resource boom is at the centre of high-level discussions at this week’s 8th African Development Forum addressing the challenge of how to govern and harness natural resources for development. This will also be a central element of the African Caribbean Pacific Group of States meeting on Global Commodities in Brussels next week. ECDPM experts are participating in both meetings and Isabelle Ramdoo released her new paper ‘From Curse to Purse: Making extractive resources work for development.’ The Guardian cited Ramdoo explaining that Africa must diversify its economy to save itself from resource curse.
Collective action problems, both in South and North, barrier to change
After five years of hard research, David Booth and Fred Golooba-Mutebi presented the synthesis report of the Africa Power and Politics Programme. This ambitious research programme reframed a more empirically-grounded way of thinking about and linking development and governance in Africa. As the title of the report states, the way to address Africa’s governance challenges is through overcoming collective action problems. Findings, messages and recommendations of the report are demanding, and sometimes uncomfortable. They point, among other things, to the need to also address the political economy of donors and their own collective action problems.
Regional action to boost food security in the Horn of Africa
Since the 2010 food and drought crisis in the Horn of Africa, a number of initiatives have been launched to address food insecurity and strengthen the region’s resilience to disasters. One of them is the regional Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) for north-east Africa, led by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development. A new ECDPM paper - building on series of studies mapping regional CAADP progress across Africa - presents early lessons on the complexities associated with using CAADP as a framework for regional action on food security. It highlights how important it is to clarify the links and possible synergies with other initiatives and recommends that a ‘roadmap’ identifying complementary actions and investment areas to boost the region’s food security could be useful.
‘Thorny issues’ in support to weak civil society
In fragile situations, state-society relations are at the core of the transition out of fragility, and civil society has an important role to play. It can contribute to a broader ownership of national development plans, contributes to domestic accountability and state-society relations, and fills a service gap. Perhaps even more importantly, civil society channels societal dynamics and can foster change, explains ECDPM’s Frauke de Weijer in a new discussion paper. Her research looks at how international support affects the ability of an often weak civil society to perform these functions and addresses some of the ‘thorny issues’ that arise from external engagement in fragile states.
New standard for responsible gold production
The World Gold Council has finalised work on developing a Conflict Free Gold Standard. Preparations involved several rounds of extensive stakeholder consultations worldwide, including one organised jointly with ECDPM in Brussels this summer. The new Standard will allow mining companies operating in conflict countries to prove that their products are extracted in a responsible way that does not fuel conflict or finance armed groups. While positive engagement of the extractive industry in the governance and development agenda is welcomed, close monitoring of the Standard’s impact will show which impact it can actually have.
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