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Four Decades On, Development Education is More Relevant than Ever

DEAR projects seek to engage European citizens in global development efforts - it’s a concept born out of the 1970s, a decade of citizen mobilisation for social change. Four decades may have passed since the European Commission started supporting Development Education and Awareness Raising actions, but the programme is still making important headway in engaging European citizens for sustainable development.

“Development education is more relevant today than ever,” said Joseph Schermesser, since 1985 part of the DEAR Programme team at the Commission headquarters in Brussels. DEAR “is very pertinent, and sometimes impertinent in a good sense because it questions and irritates established, unfair orders!”

It was such a desire to contribute to a fairer, more sustainable world that prompted the Commission to support DEAR projects and actions. Support that continues to this day, according to European Commissioner for International Development and Cooperation, Neven Mimica: “The commitment of each single citizen can make the difference and will make the Sustainable Development Goals achievable and real.”



This short video shows the views of some of the protagonists from the 70's and 80's: Commission and NGO staff explain why the DEAR Programme has contributed to public recognition of development related topics. Public interest that in the 1970s and 80s was fostered by, amongst others, the ending of the Vietnam War and Apartheid or the decolonisation in Southern Africa. Their work fuelled belief in the power of engaging citizens for change and still informs DEAR thinking to this day.

“We had a vision that ‘We can change things!’” said Pierre Galand, former president of Oxfam Belgium - “and we did change it!”. Karen Birchall, retired-Commission staff confirms: “I think is not even being idealistic but there was a very strong sense that there was an interdependency and that things needed to be supported by the public for things to change.”


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Sandra Oliveira
23 June 2017

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