Sunday, October 03, 2010

International Newsletter on Sustainable Local Development
Newsletter #72
October 1st 2010


Message from the Editorial Team

Development and international cooperation Summer University
An ”alternative” press agency

Message from the Editorial Team

In this issue, Judith, responsible for recruiting and coordinating the team of interpreters gives us an overview of the rich knowledge exchange at a Summer University held last July. This meeting on present day development issues was attended by 1000 participants.

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The Editorial Team
Judith Hitchman
Yvon Poirier
Martine Theveniaut

Development and international cooperation Summer University

Founded in 1976 by eight French NGOs, the CRID (le Centre de Recherche et d’Information pour le Développement) now brings together a multitude of French NGOs that have built partnerships with similar organizations in the South and East that are involved in development projects for their communities and that represent a broad a network.

According to the CRID website, “Development is a global process improving the standards of living of a community on an economic, social, cultural and political level. Development should be efficient from an economic point of view, but should also create a long-term perspective, should be sustainable for the environment, fair at a social level, democratic, acceptable at a geopolitical level and allow for cultural diversity. Development therefore does not merely consist in economic growth. It has to contribute to the satisfaction of fundamental needs (food, education, health…) that are recognized as rights”.

The summer university, which is held every two years, was the first to involve such a major international dimension and was attended by over 1,000 people. It took place in Pessac, a suburb of Bordeaux, from July 7th – 10th. The backdrop was the global situation of multiple crises, and the wide-ranging subjects in the workshops demonstrated the high level of involvement and concern not just of the speakers, but of the participants in development issues. As one of the young Spanish interpreters remarked: “It is impressive to see how mobilised people are in France. The way retired people have become involved in associations is an important aspect. There is nothing like this in Spain… “.

The organisation included a team of 20 Babelit@ interpreters from 8 countries and 3 continents, that I had the pleasure of coordinating as a self-managing team, working closely with the CRID steering committee. Babels is an international collective of voluntary interpreters, involved mainly in the Social Fora, aimed at providing alternatives to commercial interpretation and allowing people to speak in the language of their choice. It was a very positive experience for everyone involved.

The local radio station, France Aquitaine Radio Libre took up residence on campus for the duration of the event. There are numerous interviews about CRID (in French) which are available through their archives, including one with David Leyendecker, an interpreter from Senegal and myself:

“I would call this University both participatory and committed” said Nathalie Marzano, the General Secretary of the CRID. 130 organisations took part, as well as the many NGOs that had stands and the 45 NGOs from countries of the South or the East. We expect the latter to increase even more in the future, as they were deeply involved in the modules and different workshops. In previous summer universities, the organisations were free to choose the themes of the modules and workshops. This year the CRID opted for the World Social Forum model and the “semi autonomous model”.

The theme of the University was “Towards Dakar 2011”, and as such, many of the foundations for participating in the next World Social Forum have already been laid. Civil society has taken on an increasingly organised dimension that can no longer be overlooked, whatever the field.

Judith Hitchman
Original article written in both English and French

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Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS NEWS) is a website that presents news from a people’s and civil society viewpoint. In fact, we could talk about different websites since the Agency has news in fifteen (15) different languages. Content varies much from one language to the other. The English website is very global while the others are less. For example, the French version is in fact IPS Africa, so they have more news about Africa. The Portuguese website is run from Brazil.

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Special thanks to:
Brunilda Rafael (France) for the Spanish translation
Michel Colin (Brazil) for the Portuguese translation
Évéline Poirier (Canada) for proof-reading English and French versions

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Yvon Poirier