The IDS 50th anniversary conference ‘States, Markets and Society’ brought together over 200 academics, donors, policymakers, NGOs, civil society activists and alumni from across the world to IDS in Brighton.
Across the plenary sessions and break-out panels, the relationships between ‘state’, ‘market’ and ‘society’ were explored and challenged against a context of a new development era, with intensifying global challenges – and a post Brexit UK.
Key speakers on day one included Frances Stewart on the inequality paradox; Mariana Mazzucato on rethinking the public-private ‘deal’ and Sunita Narain on consequences of inequality for sustainability. Each brought a fresh perspective on pertinent issues and referenced the importance of IDS’ work over the past 50 years and its role in future thinking.
A series of five parallel streams ran throughout the conference. Each stream was followed by a ‘hunter-gatherer’ who reported back on the shifting configurations of state, market and society from different angles and in relation to five key development themes:
- Inequality and inclusion in the new era of capital
- Finance and business – The BRICS and beyond
- Accelerating sustainability
- Institutions and the reinvention of democracy – from local to global
- Citizen voice, agency and accountability
Melissa Leach, IDS Director, said: “Over two days we saw hard-hitting, high-level plenary talks; a rich and fascinating array of panels, and a wonderful mix of people from all over the world. Collectively we captured something of the vital substance and spirit of IDS work and relationships as built over past decades, and important as we move forward to address future challenges.”
On Day 1 of conference the inaugural IDS Annual Lecture was also launched. It was delivered by Professor James Ferguson, from Stanford University, on the subject of ‘Not Working: Rethinking Production and Distribution in the Jobless City’. The thought-provoking lecture was followed by a lively and insightful question and answer session with the audience.
During the closing plenary session, challenges were highlighted by speakers Nkoyo Toyo and Dipak Gyawalo who both called for broader thinking and novel approaches. Dipak Gyawali said that at a time when the status quo is not working for so many, it was time to create ‘uncomfortable knowledge’ to find new solutions.
Panelists’ perspectives in brief
Professor Mariana Mazzucato of the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at Sussex University, on the role of the public and private sector in addressing global challenges. She explains that the market is the outcome of public, private sector & civil society interactions.
Adriano Campolina, Executive Director of ActionAid International speaks about the ways in which NGOs might best respond to the changing relationships between society, markets and the state.
Anabel Marin of the STEPS Centre Latin American Hub discusses the changing relationship of states markets and societies in the context of sustainability and developing capabilities in the seed industry.
Isobel Ortiz, Director of Social Protection at the ILO, speaks about social protection and the role of states, markets and society.
Mariz Tadros, Research Fellow at IDS discusses the role of states, markets and society in the context of aid regimes and the reinvention of democracy in the Middle East.
Image: Mariana Mazzucato, Sunita Narain and Frances Stewart open the conference. Image credit: Lance Bellers