Despite the proliferation of Men in Black suits at Busan, there is, as a Woman in Red, much to be positive about: the space given to voices not often heard at these kinds of events has made for a more inclusive outcome document and a groundswell of discussions, activities and liaisons formed to support it.
Gender featured strongly, firmly put forward in the Opening Ceremony by Hillary Clinton and the moving address by Queen Rania of Jordan, who brought us all back to the humanity that underlines all this activity, reminding us why we were here.
The private sector was also represented with a number of side events and one of the Building Blocks of how to take this forward, breaking down mistrust that has prevailed between the two communities and forging a greater understanding.
Civil Society has the podium of the Closing Ceremony as I write and whilst many of them are increasingly in suits, this in itself is an indicator of some kind of convergence.
The follow up is of course, key, and it will be down to governments and the international frameworks to strengthen accountability and transparency across all partners – civil society, private sector and governments.
So, what are the implications for the DSA? We were out there at the kind invitation of KAIDEC, the Korean Association of international Development and Economic Cooperation, to participate in a pre-HLF4 conference and to explore and strengthen links. Emphasis was given throughout these meetings to Knowledge – deepening, strengthening and broadening knowledge and access to it. This is precisely what the DSA does.
What I take from Busan is that the need for networks such as the DSA, working in research and knowledge production for international development as it does, has never been greater. As the largest and most coherent national platform for development studies, we have a role to play in linking with our colleagues in Korea, Japan, China, Africa, Latin America, South East Asia and Oceania, to share all our knowledge, deepen our understanding of each other’s experiences, building upon these and applying them. The extraordinary journey of Korea over the past 50 years provides many lessons.
This journey continues. There will be more – watch this space!
Frances Hill is the Executive Director of the Development Studies Association