Helvetas Symposium 2024

Live event: Berne, Switzerland
november 5, 2024, 2:00 - 5:30 Pm CET, followed by a Networking happy hour

Driving Development Cooperation in a Changing World

Predictions about the world’s future are increasingly pessimistic. Polarization on geopolitical and national levels is increasing. It is proving challenging to find common will and commitment to tackle global issues — whether they be climate change, regional conflicts, poverty, advances in Artificial Intelligence, or other matters threatening humanity.

Years of economic growth, peace and prosperity in the Global North no longer seem assured. The pandemic and Russia’s war on Ukraine have been huge political and economic shocks, reverberating in many parts of the world in the form of soaring energy and food prices. Devastating conflict in the Middle East has killed thousands, most of them civilians. Western governments are ramping up military spending after years of stagnation. The influence of China, India and Russia as global powers competing with the USA and Europe in much of Asia, Africa and Latin America is taking hold, both through direct investment and social media. Most of the Sustainable Development Goals seem unlikely to be met; progress on some is even backsliding. Throughout the world, in countries with very different economic standing, there is a growing recognition of inequality and injustice. A small, elite group of very high worth individuals has highly disproportional impact on world affairs.

What does this mean for development cooperation? The most obvious current trend is a growing need for humanitarian assistance for people having their lives torn apart through conflict, extreme weather events and other disasters. The line between humanitarian assistance and development cooperation is blurring, with many donors and development actors adopting a nexus approach (often including peace as a third pillar). Funding from the North is strained due to other demands on domestic budgets. Conventional “North – South” perspectives are also questioned, with calls for localization and a decolonization of aid. The influence of the private sector and private foundations is growing.

Global politics are fundamentally changing, and this requires a systemic rethinking of development cooperation.
In discussing current challenges, we plan to address questions such as:

  • What should be the priorities for international cooperation in the coming 10 years?
  • What should be the role of different actors, given the changing global context?


13:30   Door opening and start of registration

1st Session - The Global Perspective

Session in English 

14:00   Welcome and introduction

Melchior Lengsfeld, Executive Director, Helvetas

14:10   Keynote speeches: The view of the Global South on international cooperation

Shobhini Mukerji, Executive Director, Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL)’s South Asia regional center (India) 

Kathryn Nwajiaku-Dahou, Director, Politics and Governance programme, think tank ODI (British-Nigerian)


14:40   Discussion: Donor strategies to respond to challenges
Interactive Q&A with keynote speakers and the audience.

Nicole Ruder, Assistant Director General, SDC

Daniel Giorev, Head of Unit, Resilience, Peace, Security, European Commission - DG INTPA

Other representative of an European donor organization (speakers to be confirmed)

Chair: Antonia Potter Prentice, Director, Alliance2015 – European INGO network, Brussels (to be confirmed)


15:30   Break 

2nd Session - The Swiss Approach

Session in German and French (translation service to English available if needed)

16:15   Welcome and introduction / Willkommen und Einführung

Regula Rytz, President, Helvetas

16:20   What is the impact of Swiss development cooperation? / Was bewirkt die Schweizer Entwicklungszusammenarbeit?

Speaker to be confirmed

16:30   The future of Swiss development cooperation in the polycrisis / Die Zukunft der Schweizer Entwicklungszusammenarbeit in der Polykrise (bilingual German/French with translation to English if needed)

Franziska Roth, Councillor of States, Social Democrats (Ständerätin SP)

Laurent Wehrli, National Councillor FDP,  President of the Foreign Affairs Committees FAC (Präsident der Aussenpolitischen Kommission)

Nicole Ruder, Assistant Director General, SDC

Other parlamentarian to be confirmed 

Moderation: Prof. Dr. Dina Pomeranz, Entwicklungsökonomin, Assistant Professor of Applied Economics, University of Zurich


17:20   Closing

Melchior Lengsfeld, Executive Director, Helvetas

17:30   Networking happy hour

20:00   End of the event


If you want to participate, please register now! Contact us at symposium@helvetas.org if you have questions.

Please note that the event will be recorded. The recording or parts of it may be used by Helvetas for communication and promotional purposes, editorial contributions and media coverage. By submitting the registration form, you confirm that you have been informed of this and that you agree.

Your Contact Persons

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Events & Communications Manager

The past Helvetas Symposiums 2019 - 2023


Helvetas Symposium 2023

«Reclaiming Civic Space» - trends in democratic backslides and new, innovative practices for protecting and reclaiming space.

Helvetas Symposium 2022

«Private Sector Engagement» - opportunities and risks of nonprofit and private sector collaborations.
© Helvetas / Flurina Rothenberger

Helvetas Symposium 2021

«The Hungry City» - Inclusive, healthy and resilient food systems for the Global South

Helvetas Symposium 2019

«Enterprising Africa» -  highlighted the need for jobs, good leadership, infrastructure and in-sourcing, and for the voice of the youth to be heard.