The Roundtable was the first of two planned opportunities to convene an initial network of academics, practitioners and policymakers to discuss how to shape a discourse on reimagining development from a research to praxis perspective. The key objectives of this work is are to contribute to understanding relevant disruptions in development practice, engage stakeholder perspectives, and identify critical lines of inquiry about current development research and practice. This builds on preparatory webinars and discussions conducted over the past two months along similar lines, also supported by IGD.
Four papers were circulated to participants with initial conversation centred around echoing and challenging ideas discussed in the papers. Commentators and other roundtable participants reflected on issues raised in the papers and identified key challenges facing development practice.
Some discussions centred on inclusion in development. It was acknowledged by participants that interdisciplinary and multi-level engagement, with (and between) individuals, communities, researchers, practitioners and policymakers, should be encouraged but one of the greatest challenges is ensuring an effective balance between consultation, participation, and implementation.
Other discussions raised the underpinning values that emerge when discussing what it could mean to ‘reimagine development’. The principles and values identified included power, justice, equity, partnership and transparency. The wicked problem emerging from this line of discussion was who defines these concepts and how do we remain reflexive in our design of programs to ensure practice respects these.
Importantly, there was an agreement that research and practice could emerge stronger through reflexive and trans-disciplinary practice. The science-policy approach and several reflections on the nature of donor relationships in development were interrogated, but a key focus on how to make these trans-disciplinary partnerships effective was also discussed.
A further roundtable is planned towards the end of the year to firm up future themes of collaborative discussion and research. This workshop, as part of the IGD’s work on ‘Reimagining Development’, will be important to generating and consolidating knowledge on what development is, what it could be, and how we get there.