(The Meeting is over - information is provided for reference)
"Innovative Public-Private Partnerships that Promote
International Agricultural and Rural Development"
Each year, AIARD holds its springtime Annual Meeting in Washington, DC as a way to network with public, private and academic institutions; reflect upon a key issue in international agriculture and rural development and discuss it with experts in the field; conduct business; and celebrate the good work of students, members and others. Typically about 80 members from around the country attend the meeting.
The 2008 Program. At the 2008 Annual Meeting, our program was centered on discussions of agriculturally-focused public-private partnerships (PPPs) in global service to development. Our special focus was on sharing innovations and lessons learned. The meeting was organized around a series of panel presentations that were each followed by participants' questions and answers. All speakers' bios and remarks are provided on the program page.
Divided into three segments, the program focused first on the rationale for PPPs, their trends, and the variety of kinds that are currently underway. To get started, a panel of three experts from NGOs and government described why PPPs are on the rise, what's been learned, and innovative programs that promote partnerships. The overall message was that PPPs are powerful and challenging because of the diverse capabilities they bring to bear. The take away message from this segment: Expect to see an increased number of PPPs as international development needs become more complex and budgets tighten.
Over lunch, Dr. Mpoko Bokanga, Executive Director from the Nairobi based African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) spoke of the importance of PPPs for African agricultural growth. The AATF business model has successfully demonstrated that an NGO can facilitate the identification, access, development, delivery and utilization of proprietary agricultural technologies for the benefit of rural African farmers. This presentation was a great introduction to second half of day's discussion on success stories and challenges.
The panel for the second section described a number of ongoing partnerships that are making a difference on the ground. After providing project overviews, each speaker stepped back a bit and offered his/her take on factors that slowed things down or that contributed to the success of PPPs. Across the variety of approaches, stakeholders, and venues, all of the PPPs that were profiled shared a common sense of great accomplishment in working jointly as a result of the variety of skills that each partner offered to the partnership.
The final panel looked ahead to offer a sense of where PPPs are going, and what they may look like in the future. We learned about the ins and outs and future trends of corporate social responsibility and what this means for the public and private sectors alike.
In all, the Annual Meeting's focus on PPPs was timely because so much current work in international agriculture and rural development depends on partnerships between private sector and public sector colleagues. Most everyone who attended contributed to the discussion and learned something new - for example, a better way of involving stakeholders, or a clearer way of assessing the impact of a partnership.
The Future Leaders Forum. Throughout the panel discussions, student participants in AIARD's Future Leaders Forum spoke up and contributed to the discussion. Future Leaders Forum participants had the opportunity to interact with AIARD members and guest speakers throughout the Meeting. After the Annual Meeting, AIARD organized visits for the FLF participants with several international agricultural development leaders around Washington, DC. Ms. Franklin Holley (MS degree student from UC Davis) commented on the Future Leaders Forum, "I was very pleased with the theme of the conference as I felt it was timely and informative, especially for those of us just entering the field and considering career options. The speakers and presentations were a great way to build upon what I have learned..."
Awards. Dr. Norman E. Borlaug received the 2008 Special Service Award for his longstanding leadership, as "the Father of the Green Revolution," in the global agricultural development arena. Dr. David O. Hansen of Ohio State University received the 2008 Distinguished Service Award for his commitment and considerable contributions to international development and to AIARD.