AVSI Annual Meeting “From the distribution of crumbs to the unforeseeable instant” held in Milan, on 19th -23rd November, gathered more than 100 people ranging from AVSI country representatives and local partners from 29 countries worldwide to representative from universities, foundations and businesses.Several meetings were organized during the week, dealing with crucial topics of international cooperation such as energy and development, institutional relations with donors, subsidiary system, civil society and networking.
Among the most relevant interventions, a conversation with Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at the Columbia University on “post 2015” issues. Sachs highlighted that every development project should have a multi-dimensional, integrated approach as every aspect - health, hunger, infrastructures , education – is connected to each other. But donors have difficulty in implementing integrated development actions, usually focus only on one option. We should start from the person, who need education, water, food…This is how we should address the problem of poverty: all is necessary. But this holistic approach need strong support from civil society, governments and, above all, donors. Private-sector partnerships are good but we need to review the terms of operation and define responsibilities and standards. What is really important is the shared value, businesses should increase the value of the communities where they operate and work with the stakeholders.The Millennium Development Goals have become important over time, but looking to post -2015 we need goals focused on sustainable development (SDGs) including economic, social, environmental and governance factors. Sachs is currently working, asked by UN Secretary-general, on a Sustainable Development Solutions Network , a network of problem solvers, and invited AVSI to be part of.
Piero Cipollone, Executive Director for Italy at the World Bank, made an intervention focused on the World Bank and Civil Society Organizations. He maintained that the success of MDGs mainly concerns quantity rather than quality and raised some crucial questions: How the World Bank, which set aside many funds for priority issues such as education and health care, can improve the quality of its interventions? Because books and buildings are necessary but don’t solve the problem, it’s completely underproductive, for example, to allow many children to attend school if they can’t benefit from quality education. So the real questions are: Who’s the best provider? How can we arrive at the last mile? How can we work not only with the Government but also with CSOs, who know the local reality and be sure to get services delivered with quality? The World Bank, and other donors, need to know successful experiences in the field in order to learn “how” to deliver a service. That’s the crucial role of NGOs as they have a deep knowledge and experience in local contexts.
Another interesting moment of the week was the workshop on relations with the European Union, with Alberta Laschena and Alberto Barzanò from the communications consultancy Kreab Gavin Anderson, which has recently started a collaboration with AVSI. The strong presence in the field is a relevant element and represents a huge added value that fully entitle AVSI to contribute to the European policy for development aid. In this regard, the commitment of people working with AVSI all around the world has a crucial importance as it’s up to them to collect and disseminate good practices and maintain good relations with EU delegations. The European Union is the main donor for development at international level so it’s a priority for AVSI to be recognized for its work and identity.