Trócaire have issued a report into the future of international development which highlights five major issues facing development and aid agencies.

Leading Edge 2020 Report

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Extreme weather conditions will be a leading factor behind large scale humanitarian disasters over the next decade, according to a new report issued by Trócaire today (22 March 2011).

The Leading Edge 2020 report into the future of international development has highlighted climate change as one of the five major issues facing development and aid agencies. The report, which is based on interviews with over 100 global experts, warns that an increase in large-scale humanitarian disasters as a result of climate change will lead to “a drain on resources and the good will of public donors, resulting in knock-on effects in other long term work areas.”

The report was officially launched today at the Leading Edge 2020 conference in Dublin city centre.The conference was opened by Minister of State for Trade and Development, Jan O’Sullivan TD, and the keynote address on the future of development was delivered by Andris Piebalgs, EU Commissioner for Development.

According to the report, the five key trends which will impact on development over the coming years are:

  • Climate change: There will be an increased frequency of extreme weather conditions, leading to more large-scale humanitarian crises. “More frequent emergencies will be a drain on resources and the good will of public donors or INGO supporter bases, resulting in knock-on effects in other long term work areas,” says the report. Development agencies must place more focus on preparing communities to deal with such crises.
  • Shifting geopolitics: Developing countries will increasingly seek economic cooperation with the ‘new powers’, such as China and India, as opposed to traditional development aid from the west. “This new approach, based on state capitalism, may bring some benefits in terms of infrastructure development, but also poses serious threats,” the report warns. “The lack of transparency and accountability exposes marked governance gaps at many different levels.”
  • Demographic change: Growing populations will see increased poverty in urban areas. In 2008, for the first time more than half the world’s population lived in urban areas and by 2050 that figure is likely to rise to 70%. “The face of poverty around the world will become increasingly urban in the coming decade,” says the report. “This may result in growing unemployment, as well as increasing pressure on resources like water and electricity…hardening attitudes in the North towards immigrants may lead to negative views on development…the public may question their support for development efforts if they feel they are undermined by population growth presented as out of control.”
  • Natural resource pressures: Resources such as land and water will increasingly become sources of conflict. According to the report, “The pressure on natural resources in many countries is leading to a clamp-down on democratic space and a criminalisation of civil protest. This will increasingly undermine human rights, such as access to land, for vulnerable groups.”
  • Widening inequality: Increasing poverty in middle-income countries will present problems for development agencies. “As countries graduate from least developed country status, they may have less access to development funding,” the report says. “Yet some of these countries will still be home to large numbers of people living in poverty. It raises the question of where development agencies should be working and what approach they should take to address poverty in these countries.”

Trócaire is the offical overseas development agency of the Catholic Church In Ireland.  It is a member of Caritas Internationalis.