On 28-30 November, 50 staff from DT Global Asia Pacific attended the eighth Australasian AID Conference (AAC). Held in Canberra at the Australian National University Development Policy Centre, the event brought together more than 650 international development practitioners from Australia, New Zealand, Asia, the Pacific Islands, and beyond.
The three-day event featured over 40 panel sessions on leading aid and development issues, including discussions on international development policy, indigenous voices in development, conflict and peacebuilding, economic development, private sector development, infrastructure, education, gender and disability inclusion, climate resilience, digital development, and aid effectiveness.
AAC 2022 provided an invaluable opportunity for industry leaders and stakeholders to come together and share their insights, discuss issues, propose solutions, and collaborate on international aid and development opportunities.
Throughout the conference, DT Global took a leading role in the conversation, with five presenters from various programs in the Asia Pacific region examining the outcomes of results-based financing in Indonesia, private sector development in the Pacific, localisation in the Australian aid program, local leadership and change, and infrastructure and gender equality.
The Hon Pat Conroy MP, Minister for International Development and the Pacific for the Australian Government, opened the event declaring it the preeminent fixture on Australia’s international development calendar.
“I am proud to be here as a champion of Australia’s Aid Program…The Aid Program can no longer hide in the shadows, it is an essential part of our Australian statecraft,” he said.
“There are many reasons for having a strong well-resourced aid program: there is the security argument, the economic argument, there is diplomatic argument, but fundamentally I think there is a moral case. We have an obligation to help our fellow human beings. Especially as 22 of our 26 closest neighbours are developing nations.”
Minister Conroy spoke openly about his vision for Australia’s forthcoming international development policy, highlighting the need for “equality, inclusion, transparency, and accountability, so that we can produce good outcomes for our partner countries and for Australia.” He also observed the importance of local leadership, a reoccurring theme at the conference.
The idea that effective change requires local leaders to design solutions to their own development challenges is now well-accepted within the international development community. However, conference participants said more work is still needed to shift the agenda so that decision making powers can be fully realised at a local level.
Panellist Dr Keren Winterford from the Institute of Sustainable Futures had a strong message for audience members, “We are part of formative change ourselves. We need to amplify local voices. We need to disrupt our ideas of existing knowledge, and we need to recognise and value diverse identities.”
This view was echoed by Abt Indonesian country rep, Anna Winoto, who said, “We need to co-create and co-design programs with strategic local partners, and design with sustainability in mind.” It was also shared by Fremden Yanhambath from Vanuatu Skills Partnership, who called for all to “engage the people that live and breathe the issues.”
This conversation provided the perfect backdrop for DT Global to launch the Emerging Leaders in International Development initiative (ELID). The ELID program is a 12-month mentorship opportunity where DT Global fosters growth and builds capacity amongst our strongest asset: our staff. As part of this project and in support of local leadership, DT Global sponsored 15 Emerging Leaders from our Asia-Pacific project teams to attend AAC in Canberra, participate in capacity building sessions throughout the week, and meet with representatives from DFAT and across the industry.
The Emerging Leaders travelled from Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Samoa, Philippines, Vanuatu, and Kiribati to attend the conference and a two-day intensive Emerging Leaders workshop. The event provided the leaders with an invaluable opportunity to meet in person, network with a range of development actors and learn new and innovative approaches to international development to bring back to their projects and their home countries.
DT Global was a proud sponsor of the 2022 Australasian AID Conference.