7th Stakeholders Meeting of the Belgian Development Cooperation

The Great Lakes region, joint efforts towards stability and development

The Stakeholders Meeting of the Belgian Development Cooperation is an annual forum that brings together political leaders, governmental actors, civil society, universities and scientific institutes. This event has a dual objective. Firstly, it serves as a source of information on international challenges that development cooperation faces. Secondly, it examines political and organisational policy aspects relating to the Belgian context, and provides suggestions for the Belgian Development Cooperation. In doing so, it also seeks to stimulate policy coherence for development.

The seventh Stakeholders Meeting of Belgian Development Cooperation will take place at the Egmont Palace in Brussels on 6 May 2014. Preparation and organisation are carried out jointly by the federal administration for development cooperation DGD and representatives from the regional authorities, NGOs, unions, universities and scientific institutes.

The theme of this year’s meeting is the Belgian Development Cooperation and the Great Lakes region in Africa. Since more than 20 years, the region has been plagued by political instability and armed conflicts, porous borders and humanitarian crisis, along with tensions over natural resources and other potentially destabilizing factors. This challenging, risk-prone and difficult context has not withheld the Belgian Development Cooperation and many of its partner organizations from concentrating a large part of their means and efforts onto the countries of the region, with the aim of alleviating poverty and achieving stability and security for its people.

Last year, the international community has brokered in Addis Ababa the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for DRC and the Great Lakes (PSCF) among the countries of the region. The agreement was signed by the DRC, Angola, Republic of Congo, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Central African Republic (CAR), Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan and Zambia. Together with recent evolutions on the ground, it brings concrete hope for achieving peace and stability. Joint efforts are being undertaken, amongst others by the United Nations, the World Bank and the European Union, to consolidate this process and to ensure fast the necessary peace dividends for the afflicted population.

Belgium  - loyal to its longstanding commitment in the region - plays an active role in this process, with the firm conviction of supporting regional stability, security and development.
However, it is clear that the region will remain fragile for some time. It is therefore necessary to take a deeper look at some of the root causes of the instability of the region, and to examine how the Belgian Development Cooperation  - together with its partner organisations – can contribute effectively to the advancement of the region.

This edition of the Stakeholders Meeting will serve as an opportunity to take stock of the main challenges of the Great Lakes region. It will serve as a platform of exchange and dialogue between Belgian actors on these issues and foster a common understanding of how to work and make progress in the fragile context of the Great Lakes region. The Stakeholders Meeting will also provide a space to articulate and listen to the analyses and proposals of international actors and non-governmental actors .

Programme schedule, format and methodology
The Stakeholder Meeting will start with an official opening session, featuring a number of distinguished guests and an opening address by Minister Jean-Pascal Labille, in charge of Development Cooperation.
Subsequently a High Level Session will be held, with keynote speakers from the African and international community and Belgian stakeholders.
The afternoon will be organised around three parallel workshops, which will be working sessions building on the morning’s discussions and oriented toward specific issues and challenges of the Great Lakes region. The workshops will deal respectively with the issues of decent work, natural resources and fragility.
The concluding plenary session will consist of a reporting session of the main outcomes of the morning session and a short report on the key recommendations and conclusions of the three workshops.
The final closing intervention will be done by Minister Labille.
The meeting will take place in three languages, English, French and Dutch. There will be simultaneous interpretation.