Devex World 2020 happened virtually on 10th December, featuring 10 hours of panel discussions on a range of topics from food systems to the collection and usage of data. Below are the key learnings from the event.
1. The pandemic has created an incredible opportunity for higher education to provide access and equality through innovation and online learning. This could act as an incredible tool to improve life chances. “There has to be investment if we are going to reach the rural student, the student who has nothing.” Address Malata, vice-chancellor at Malawi University of Science and Technology.
2. ‘There will be no vaccine for climate change.’ Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary at UNFCCC. It is proving difficult to generate the same sense of urgency around climate change as the Covid-19 because the latter is “acute” while many of the issues around climate change are “chronic.” However, in many poorer regions of the world, the effects of climate change can already be classed as acute.
3. The pandemic has highlighted the need for reliable data. In order for organisations to use data effectively, a data culture needs to exist. “The desire and thirst for data must come from the top and go all the way down the organization.” – Harpinder Collacott, executive director at Development Initiatives.
“Transparency and reproducibility are critical.”
Maria Ruth Jones, development impact evaluation coordinator at the World Bank. Companies need to be stringent about data quality and invest in the right human resources.
4. Technology and philanthropy are transforming development. In order to attract this capital, organisations need to make a strong link to the long term benefits of a programme and avoid overcrowding in the philanthropic space. “We need to have more risk-tolerant capital earlier on in the process.”
5. “It’s critical for organizations to be “comfortable with discomfort,” with regards to shortcomings in diversity and inclusion.” – Janti Soeripto, president and CEO at Save the Children US. For those that manage successfully, the benefits are endless. For example, NGOs that are successful in localization and passing responsibility to local actors will see results that are “more appropriate, more timely, and more effective.”
6. A global event requires a globally coordinated response. Covid-19 was in no way expected, but “the world was not prepared in a myriad of ways.” – Dr. Dennis Carroll, chair of the Global Virome Project Leadership Board.
“When we talk about pandemic preparedness. It’s not a state. It’s an active process. You need to continue to maintain that state of readiness. And that requires ongoing funding, and not a cycle of panic and neglect”
Dr. Syra Madad, senior director of the system-wide special pathogens program at NYC Health + Hospitals.