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What big international development events are still to come in 2016?

Melanie Archer

Digital Editor, BBC Media Action

2016 has been a busy year so far. The World Humanitarian Summit took place in Istanbul while the British Government hosted a major anti-corruption conference. But the year’s not over yet and the next few months hold a lot in store. Here are some autumn (and early winter) highlights from the international development calendar.


19th: UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants#UN4RefugeesMigrants

20th: Leaders’ Summit on the Global Refugee Crisis

UNHCR estimates that over 4,000 people have died or gone missing trying to cross the Mediterranean in the twelve months leading up to this September. Around 11 million Syrians have fled their home since the outbreak of the devastating conflict in their home country. No doubt mindful of these numbers, global leaders grapple with how to better handle the challenges of displacement and migration at both a UN Summit and leaders’ gathering convened by President Obama.

20th to 22nd: 4th World Forum for Media Development#mediadev16

The Global Forum for Media Development (a top sectoral body for media development organisations) will bring together media professionals and assistance groups to “imagine tomorrow’s media”. Embracing the conference’s location in Indonesia, the forum will explore the Asian media’s top players, values and business models. Other topics up for discussion include pressing issues, such as limits to free speech and responses to radical extremist narratives, which we’ve argued need to be the focus of a more evidence-based debate.

24th to 28th: The What Works Global Summit#WWGS2016

Evidence experts will gather in London to share their experiences using evidence to come up with better policies around health, humanitarian assistance, conflict and peacebuilding, and much else besides. One for those who get passionate about randomised control trials and/or grapple with the challenges of conducting research in fragile states.


17th to 20th: UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development | #Habitat3

The UN only convenes conferences on urbanisation every 20 years, which makes Habitat III – taking place in Quito, Ecuador – quite the occasion. The summit’s key document is the “New Urban Agenda”, a strategy to guide how we build, manage and live in 21st century cities, which will be of interest to local and regional governments. In terms of key talking points thus far, the concept of the ‘right to the city’ (enabling a “dignified and secure existence”) and the future of UN Habitat have both been the subjects of much negotiation.       


7th to 18th: Marrakech Climate Change Conference | #COP22

As China, US and Brazil ratify the Paris agreement on climate change, this year’s COP in Marrakech is seen as a platform for other states to further hone their national climate action plans to achieve implementation of the Paris agreement. BBC Media Action’s Climate Asia portal provides a useful guide to public opinion on how everyday citizens are experiencing and adapting to changes in the weather across seven countries in Asia.


7th: Open Government Partnership Global Summit#OGP16

Transparency is only growing in importance as an issue in the international development community – we ourselves have long focused on the topic as part of our work on governance. The Open Government Partnership’s summit in Paris will provide a forum for sharing best practice around this hot topic, ranging in focus from fighting corruption to leveraging technology for democratic ends. 

31st: Leadership turnover in major international development agencies

Former UNHCR chief and Portuguese President António Guterres is the current favourite to succeed Mr Ban as UN Secretary-General. But with speculation that EU Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva might make a last-minute entry to the contest, the ultimate result is still not a foregone conclusion.

Looking ahead to 2017, would-be successors to Margaret Chan as Director of the World Health Organization will have to declare their intention to run at some point this year. And by nominating Jim Yong Kim for a second term at the helm of the World Bank, the Obama administration has kicked off a selection process early enough to have a decision by the time a new US president takes office.

Melanie Archer is Digital Editor of the Media Action Insight blog; she tweets as @MelanieBArcher