Wealth, Violence, and a Changing Development Landscape

The world is talking about new broader and deeper goals to eliminate extreme poverty and decrease inequality. Middle income countries such as Brazil and India have increasing wealth and capacity to uplift the poor. Simultaneously, governments in conflict-ridden and war-torn states are struggling or simply unable to provide basic services for their people. What is the evolving role of international NGOs in the Brazils and Indias of the world? What is the role of international NGOs in areas with weak and fragile states? InterAction’s Forum 2015 (June 22-24, 2015) explores these critical and timely questions with influential voices from the UN, NGOs, International Committee of the Red Cross/Crescent, U.S. government, the private sector, and much more.

Emerging economies such as Brazil, India, China, Turkey, and South Africa are home to the majority of the world’s extreme poor. While effective government policies and strong growth of private businesses have helped lift millions out of abject poverty, the slums in Calcutta and the favelas in Rio still remain.

As countries gain more millionaires, poverty is no longer merely a reflection of sluggish economic development, but the failure to address inequality. Even when it's available, capital does not flow to the poor – or even the middle class – without policy interventions, or efforts that shape the market and provide social safety nets. During this year’s Forum we will examine how local and international civil society organizations can mitigate the negative effects of the global economy, and through partnerships, build on its positive sides.

Along with emerging economies, the main challenge is fragile states. Countries such as Syria, Central African Republic, and Yemen suffer from incessant violence – impeding local development and scaring away international investments.

The Forum also explores how NGOs can play a major role in effective and sustainable local security. To promote a degree of security in areas that government is unable to reach, civil society needs the political space to mobilize and deliver healthcare, education, safe water, and address injustices faced by poor and marginalized people. In complex humanitarian crises the role of NGOs is more basic: save lives and provide essential support.

Whether it is peacebuilding, necessary interventions in war-torn areas, or decreasing inequality, simply throwing money at the issues is not the solution. This is not about building “NGO Republics” in places lacking government reach, as some skeptics may claim. Strong partnerships with local constructive governments and businesses are crucial.

As the world changes, civil society organizations must evolve their methods in addressing the emerging local and global issues. Join us at this year’s Forum to further explore the many ways civil society organizations can fight for greater space and accelerate their impact amidst new actors and the shifting landscape.