By Isa Baud, EADI President
The theme of the EADI conference is Responsible development in a polycentric world, with a specific focus on the emerging middle classes. This theme reflects several central shifts in development processes and thinking which are quite strategic for the future. The focus on the polycentric world reflects a reality in which new development models are emerging from the initiatives of the BRICS countries; such as Brazil, which has shown the world that social policies can be introduced in middle income countries with measureable effects on reducing inequalities in incomes, and improved outcomes in household livelihoods. It is also reflected in the aid architecture, in which ”new donors” are taking a more prominent role in providing ODA to countries.
What the emerging middle class in the countries of the global South will do in terms of building new forms of citizenship and exercising them is an interesting question, included in the conference theme. Not only are lifestyles changing, but more particularly the ways in which the middle classes engage with existing inequalities in their own countries, as well as the inequalities characterizing relationships within the rest of the world will influence strategically trends towards the future for the world as a whole. In bringing together speakers from the various regions, we are providing a platform for a variety of voices which need to be heard in the European context, where discussions about the role that European countries individually and the EU as a whole are strongly debated. We look forward to our debates at the EADI General Conference on these issues.
Isa Baud is EADI President and Professor at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences – Department of Human Geography, Planning and International Development Studies of the University of Amsterdam