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Development in a Polarized World: Upcoming DevRes 2024 Conference

Sara Gabrielsson, DevRes conference coordinator

What impact does development research actually have? And how can this field thrive in a world of sudden policy changes and devastating wars? The 2024 DevRes conference in Lund is around the corner – meet Sara Gabrielsson, the Conference coordinator.

In October, development researchers from all over Sweden (and beyond) will gather in Lund for the bi-annual DevRes conference. Sara Gabrielsson, Conference coordinator as well as Senior Lecturer in Sustainability Science, is kept busy by the planning process and upcoming application deadlines.  

"Our main focus for the conference is to bring development researchers in Sweden together. It doesn’t happen very often", she says.

The preparations for the upcoming conference started last year, with decisions on venue, conference dates and this year’s overarching theme: “Reaching the Sustainable Development Goals in a polarized world”. The work has resulted in an extensive three day-programme at Medicon Village in Lund. To boost participation and engagement, it was important to Sara Gabrielsson to host a face-to-face event. Each DevRes conference day will also have an overarching theme or focus.

"During Day 1, we will focus on what’s happening in the field of development research right now. In Sweden, there are major budget cuts. Where does that leave us?"

The first conference day will also feature two keynote speakers; Alfredo Saad-Filho, Professor of Political Economy and International Development at King’s Collage in London and Agnes Andersson, Professor in Human Geography at Lund University.

Day 2 of the DevRes conference will focus on the Sustainable Development Goals, have an interdisciplinary approach, and include multiple parallel research paper sessions. In the afternoon, there will be an interactive World Café with presenting PhD students.

"We want to provide an opportunity for doctoral students to network and present their research in a more informal setting", Sara Gabrielsson explains.  

The last day of the DevRes conference will shed light on the impact of development research and feature another prominent keynote speaker; Dr. Susan Chomba, Director of the Vital Landscapes Program at the World Resources Institute (WRI). Two Right Livelihood awarded organizations - Africa Institute for Energy Governance and Mother Nature Cambodia – will attend and present about how they utilize research in their lobbying and advocacy work. To highlight how research contributes to societal impact, participating researchers and PhD students will also have the opportunity to present their work in the form of impact stories.

"With everything that’s going on in the world, development research is easily deprioritized. It is important for us to regain focus and show how it can lead to positive change", Sara Gabrielsson says.

What part of the DevRes 2024 conference are you looking forward to the most?

"I’m really excited about the impact stories, listening to Alfredo Saad-Fihlo's keynote speech, and meeting representatives who work with sustainable development in the field."

Read more about DevRes 2024 and apply: DevRes 2024 | Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies