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The development landscape has changed significantly since the turn of the century. There has been a complex mix of economic globalisation and anti-globalisation, digitalisation, the shaping and reshaping of rules and policies, unconventional approaches, new multilateral institutions and agencies, and the rise of diverse sources of finance beyond official development assistance. At the centre of this evolution, emerging development cooperation partners have become increasingly central players. From discourse to cooperation to new institutions, they have served as an important driver of shifting development paradigms. With this increasing diversity of actors and flows, the development community now faces exciting new opportunities, coupled with difficult questions about exactly how to forge complementary, meaningful and effective partnerships.

The big takeaway from the 2018 CGD Development Leaders conference was that all agencies, new and old, face similar opportunities and challenges—of relevance, responsiveness, communication, capability, and resilience—and there is much to learn from sharing experiences, especially at this time of profound change in the world of international development. The task for the future development agency is to identify both the bright and weak spots of the existing order and forge coalitions of the willing to utilise and address them respectively.

CGD’s 2019 Development Leaders conference, co-hosted with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), in Beijing, China, will again bring together the community of Heads and Directors of development cooperation in aid agencies and ministries from around the world. In a private and independent setting, the purpose is to deepen mutual understanding and build a stronger foundation of engagement and cooperation in international development. The central proposition is that the current status of understanding and dialogue between OECD DAC donors and emerging development cooperation partners leaves many blind spots, with insufficient empirically based evidence about both the needs on the ground and the realities of their respective development cooperation. The aim of the conference is to fill this gap to pave the way for greater complementary engagement, mutually beneficial relationships, and a better understanding of what constitutes effective development cooperation and finance.

We will set out to empower governments, official development agencies, and multilateral organisations with greater understanding of their respective development cooperation approaches, with comparative information, and with evidence of what’s working and what’s not. This is an important first step towards the creation of new understandings of global development in the emerging multi-polar world. These new understandings will then inform dialogue about aspirational rules of engagement, new ways of cooperation, and financing for global development.

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CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD does not take institutional positions.