Institute of Development Studies, IDS

'Time to listen to local communities,' say Bellagio Initiative Summit participants

Press Release   •   Nov 18, 2011 08:41 GMT

Participants at the Bellagio Initiative Summit this week agreed that both development organisations and philanthropists must start listening to voices from on the ground, if they are fully committed to improving human wellbeing.

This comes in addition to the need to improve collaboration between the two sectors – the very premise of the Bellagio Initiative, a US$2m Rockefeller Foundation project co-led by IDS and the Resource Alliance.

Summit participant Najat Rochdi, Deputy Director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said: ‘The development challenges we are facing today are so important that no single organisation can really do something about it on their own ... It’s been a year since [UNDP] started thinking of opening up to a more strategic partnership with the philanthropic sector because we really believe that it’s an important stakeholder and actor in the development arena ... but let’s also be frank and have humility and admit that we need to learn a lot from the local communities.’

‘Listen to the demand side’

Jay Naidoo, Chairman of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and a panellist in Module One of the summit, said modern-day philanthropy is now asking for business plans before looking at social justice. He agreed that there had been some remarkable risks taken by global philanthropies, for example in vaccine development and around the Green Revolution, ‘but there’s an army of philanthropists out there who think development is like a sausage factory, who think development is a linear process’.

He urged people to listen to ‘the demand side’, the rights that people were demanding at community level.

Join the Summit live

Live audio streams, video packages and daily debriefs are available throughout the summit via the Bellagio website. Tweets and comments are being shared live and displayed to the summit participants themselves. Opportunities to have your questions answered about the future of development and philanthropy by some of the assembled experts will be advertised shortly.

The Summit is taking place at the Rockefeller Bellagio Initiative Center in Bellagio, Italy, from 8 - 22 November. It aims to produce an action plan for philanthropists and those working in international development.

A week into the Summit, participants have considered trends and opportunities in philanthropy and development, as well as mobilising resources, in both plenary sessions and break-out groups. Coming up, in Module Three, participants will consider ‘new frameworks for philanthropic innovation and action in a changing world’.