From 21 – 22 June, Chris, MzN’s managing director, and Ewan, an analyst, attended the 2022 European Development Days in Brussels. EDD is a forum for the development community in Europe, bringing together representatives of the EU, NGOs, and the private sector to discuss the future of development. The event was arranged around five major themes: digital, climate and energy, transport, health, and education and research, but the centrepiece was the introduction of the EU’s Global Gateway strategy, particularly in the context of Africa, which focuses on sustainable development of an interconnected world. 

Chris and Ewan spent a packed two days running from lab debates, to presentations, to brainstorming sessions. These were on topics ranging from unlocking the potential of small startups to drive development, using digitisation to support sustainable coffee and get fair prices for smallholder farmers, to huge projects like the Great Green Wall. They heard from a wide variety of speakers, including representatives of the EU commission, national governments, business leaders and innovators, youth organisations, as well as the NGO community. 

Development initiatives that crosscut multiple SDGs, sustainability and environmentalism, digital technologies, innovation, inclusivity of those often excluded, and collaboration between states, NGOs and private enterprises were all major themes. Additionally, using data to judge the impact and contribute to the scalability of initiatives came across as a major priority for EU donors. There was also a great deal of focus on the collaboration between the AU and EU, and the EU’s focus on development in Africa as a key strategic concern. It seems that initiatives that can engage with these areas will be favoured by the commission, and find a greater depth of collaboration with the Global Gateway.