“Global Visions and Local Practices: Development Research in a Post-2015 World”

Development visions have gained momentum with the setting up of a new global agenda. While significant international consensus was attained around a set of normative goals (the SDG’s), their materialization calls for serious reflection. One critical set of challenges relates to bridging global goals and visions, on the one hand, and local practices, realities and conditions, on the other. Ultimately, the outcomes of this global agenda depend upon the processes through which it is implemented and embedded in concrete settings. Global visions are modified by local contexts, producing a range of unintended and diverse outcomes. Local settings are characterized by an immense diversity in modes of life, physical environments and technical systems, which invites a consideration of a diversity of paths towards improved futures. Actors at the local level may embrace, appropriate or resist global agendas. Opportunities and risks for marginalized and vulnerable groups – the key targets of the new global agenda – are of particular concern. Also important is how their own innovations and everyday practices in a wide range of spheres (environmental, health, social and other practices) can be harnessed, their capacities and knowledges mobilized and how they can influence strategies and interventions seeking to materialize global development goals.

An emphasis on the encounter between current global visions and local contexts does not, however, entail that the great global-local challenges of our time can be solved at one specific scale. It rather actualizes long-standing questions about processes, structures and relations at multiple scales that work against, or alternatively open new avenues towards more just and sustainable futures.

There is an acute need for reflection concerning the role of knowledge production in the new policy context. How can the competences of a broad and diverse Swedish academic community be mobilized and shape Swedish global policies and interventions? Can opportunities for critical independent research be secured? Researchers may contribute to the development of indicators, to the assessment of opportunities, risks and impacts relating to the new global agenda, but they may also reflect upon the assumptions and notions of progress underlying their own work and the new agenda and its implementation.

Ilda Lindell
Chair of the Organizing Committee