Annual Report 2013-2014: 50 years of building bridges between research and practice

Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) (ed.)
Books (2014)

Bonn: German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)

ISBN: 978-3-88985-643-2

Dt. Ausg. u.d.T.:
Jahresbericht 2013-2014: 50 Jahre Brücken bauen zwischen Theorie und Praxis

Foreword by the Directors

Fifty years of the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) – it is an honour for both of us to be able to speak at this jubilee on behalf of an institute that has such a long and remarkable history - and no doubt future, in view of the increasing international interrelations and growing importance of many emerging and developing countries. Global development co-operation is set to increase further in significance with these worldwide economic, political, social and ecological interdependencies.

The DIE was created 50 years ago, as a training institute. There was a requirement to train management staff for the newly-created German development policy institutions. 1971 saw the addition of research and policy-advising activities – the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) soon identified new requirements for the nascent institute to serve. These fields of tasks remain central to the institute to this day and it is a unique character trait that the three fields are not isolated from each other but are instead amalgamated with one another: research topics arise from both problems in practice and academic curiosity and the desire to close gaps in knowledge; the training benefits from academic knowledge and the reflection of practical experience; policy advising draws on research and serves to address questions regarding the future development of the policy area.

Over the years it is possible to observe how the DIE has grown to address its tasks and tackle new questions and issues. In the first training course, in 1965, we find a broad spectrum of subjects ranging from "Communication in the service of distributing new ideas and practices, investigated in the example of Afghanistan" and on to "Problems of developing new land in the Bolivian lowlands through the resettlement of highland Indios". From the present-day viewpoint, a curiously topical range of themes, although communication today is most of all electronic and the indigenous population of the Bolivian highlands and lowlands is now the politically dominant class.

In the 1970s and 1980s the institute began to focus on in-depth research into development problems in sectors and regions. The opening up of the developing countries to the global economy from the mid-1980s onwards became a central theme. The institute honed its academic and scientific profile and acquired the capability to advise the BMZ, particularly on strategic and programmatic issues. There was also good cause for this, as rapid development successes as a consequence of development co-operation proved the exception.

In the last 15-20 years we have observed how "the South" is changing, resulting in a reduction in disparity between the countries, although this inequality is growing within many of the countries themselves. Own development resources are being created within the countries and it is becoming apparent that a sustainable improvement in living conditions is primarily a question of political priorities and constellations. The significance of classic development policy is receding as a result – but there is an ambitious international agenda that takes social justice, political participation and ecological sustainability as an obligation towards present and future generations seriously: in countries rich and poor, development co-operation issues have a position of great importance.

Today, there are new challenges facing international co-operation. There is a need to adapt our economic practices to ensure the full provision of renewable energies by 2050. Therefore, we are now  familiar with the technology, many more people have the necessary training and education to comprehend and assist this rapid transition and the financial resources required are available. At the same time, cultural co-operation is also growing in significance. In a post-Western world order it is important for bridges to be built between, for example, Asian, Islamic and Western world views in order to keep international conflicts manageable.

Under these conditions, being at the forefront of research, policy-advising and training is a privilege and a great responsibility that we at the DIE are happy to bear. At this point we would like to express our thanks, first and foremost to the staff at the DIE, who, with their commitment, their passion for knowledge and their actions, have made the institute what it is today. And, naturally, we also wish to thank our shareholders, the BMZ and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the members of our Board of Trustees and our research partners throughout the world, who support and accompany us on our path. Of one thing we are certain: global development co-operation can only be as good as the knowledge foundations upon which it is built.

Further experts


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