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Australia Ahead of the Curve: An Agenda for International Development to 2025



As the peak body for Australian NGOs involved in international development and humanitarian action, ACFID is focused on ensuring that Australia is an effective global player for sustainable development, whether through Australian Government policies and programs; through the work of Australian NGOs, academic institutions and private sector actors; or though collaboration between these actors. Australia Ahead of the Curve: An agenda for international development to 2025 is ACFID’s new flagship project: a collection of bold ideas on how Australia should engage with the world over the next decade.

Earlier in 2016, ACFID put out a public call for think-pieces. We asked for established thought-leaders and new and emerging voices, both from within the development sector and outside of it, for their ideas on the question: What should Australia’s role be in assisting developing countries and responding to global development challenges to 2025 and beyond?

So far, we have received over 35 submissions, ranging from overarching perspectives on the way that Australia engages with the rest of the world, to targeted analysis of the shifts needed in sectors such as health and humanitarian response, for us to have impact on poverty and inequality. This compilation of pieces for ACFID National Conference 2016 profiles some of the thought-provoking ideas we’ve received so far, to help stimulate the discussion at Conference on the theme of Impact: A future development agenda for Australia.

The pieces in this compilation all speak to ways in which Australian development actors can increase their impact. They speak to the way that Australia’s aid program can position us to engage with the world, the role of Australian NGOs in increasingly localised development and humanitarian systems, and the need for all actors to collaborate to increase their impact.

The pieces also cut across the global challenges and issues facing the world today – climate change, conflict and insecurity, voluntary and forced migration – that will require global solutions. At the same time, emerging donors such as the BRICS nations are playing increasingly important roles, and local actors at all levels are challenging the traditional model of development.

ACFID has grouped the pieces in this compilation around the sub-themes of ACFID National Conference:

  • Australia’s official aid program

  • The future of Australian NGOs

  • Collaboration for impact

At Conference we’ll be exploring these themes in more detail, as well as many of the other ideas discussed in these think-pieces.

In past ACFID Conferences we have looked at the disruptive changes facing Australian development NGOs and the need for us to find innovative solutions to both old and new challenges. This year, we’ll be building on these discussions and exploring a bold, future agenda for the Australian development sector, taking into account the changing context for development and the need to innovate and do development differently in order to have impact.

So if you had an idea that would fundamentally change the way we do development for the better, what wouldit be?

Maybe you’d like to see Australian NGOs cede power to local actors and redefine themselves as social movements, building a public constituency that is outraged by injustice and stands in solidarity with movements for peace, freedom and equality around the world.

Or you could look for new ways of working in partnership, through innovative co-working arrangements, or partnerships with other development actors such as the private sector or diaspora communities. Perhaps you would protect the official aid budget by shifting the narrative away from a false dichotomy that says charity begins at home, to one that recognises aid as contributing to our own national interest – or maybe you can’t think of anything more dangerous than conflating our own interest with our responsibility to help others.

In this compilation of think-pieces you’ll find these ideas and more. We encourage you to read the submissions and bring your own ideas for Australia’s role in international development to the discussions you will have at Conference, whether it be in one of the participatory workshops, in a Q&A with one of our keynote speakers, or over a cuppa at morning tea.

ACFID National Conference 2016 is an important moment in Australia Ahead of the Curve, but it’s not the end of the journey. We’ll still be accepting think-pieces until the end of the year and publishing them on our website. And in 2017 we’ll continue the conversation through policy dialogues and a final publication that explores what this means for ACFID, the sector, and Australia, as we develop an agenda for international development to 2025.

Alice Ridge, Australia Ahead of the Curve project coordinator, ACFID