Last Thursday’s networking forum co-hosted by the RDI Network and the University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) marked another positive step in the Network’s mission to offer a convening platform for Australia’s NGO and university sectors to partner together on research for development. 50 representatives from Sydney’s international development not-for-profit and academic communities met together to pursue opportunities to strengthen cross-sectoral partnerships.
The event struck a delicate balance between the technical and interpersonal. The first half of the afternoon was dedicated to discussion of Australia’s upcoming Voluntary National Review of its commitments under the international Sustainable Development Goals agenda. Representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade and the Australian Council for International Development outlined their respective organisation’s vision and plans for the process. It was emphasised that the Review, due in July 2018, will represent Australia and not merely the Australian Government – and therefore will seek to source and reflect voices from across sectors.
The forum’s latter half provided an opportunity for structured networking in a form of ‘speed dating’. In quick conversations over tea and coffee, participants were encouraged to share their research priorities with a view towards potential partnership. First in groups and later individually, all in attendance were skillfully stewarded through the process by Keren Winterford, Research Principal at the ISF. While not everyone came away having found their research ‘soul mate’, the multitude of business cards exchanged and conversations that lasted well after the cakes had run out suggest a number of new connections were formed.
Finally, at the event’s conclusion, the RDI Network and Partnerships Manager, Dr. Philippa Smales, launched the Network’s new practical guide How to Partner for Development Research, supporting NGOs and researchers through the stages of research partnership. This resource represents an extension of a long-running stream of work by the RDI Network which can be explored here.
This event represented the third in a series of networking fora in 2017, and also built upon conversations started at the 2016 SDGs forum: A Shared Agenda for Action.