Memorandum by the Department for International
Thank you for your letter of 16 February seeking
information on public participation in the work of my Department.
In 1997, DFID published its White Paper on International
Development following an extensive consultation exercise. This
committed DFID, among other things, to more open and collaborative
ways of developing policy. As part of this, a variety of consultation
processes have been built into our strategy development process.
Our Country Strategy Papers are all subject
to widespread, structured, external consultation. This process
has enabled us to benefit from the wealth of outside expertise
available both in developing countries (eg governments, local
NGOs, other donors, academics and the private sector) and in the
UK (eg private sector, NGOs and the research community). Each
Country Strategy Paper contains an annex outlining the nature
and extent of consultation undertaken in its formulation.
We have built on this experience in preparing
a new series of Strategy Papers which detail the actions required
to reach the main International Development Targets. Each of these
papers is subject to a wide, but targeted, consultation over a
period of about eight weeks. There is a different target audience
for each paper, but all are circulated to a cross-section of people
from all relevant interest groups (civil society, academia, developing
countries, other donors, multilateral institutions, private sector,
international development banks, etc). Comments (including by
e-mail) are also solicited via a page within the DFID web-site;
the page itself was advertised in "Developments" magazine,
and features a discussion group. Other channels for feedback include
seminars, face-to-face discussion and written correspondence.
Two example Strategy Papers are enclosed.
In addition to consultation around individual
strategies we have sought wider engagement with the public more
generally. The Development Policy Forum process was launched in
1998, and a second round is now well underway. Eleven events are
taking place across the UK, organised in collaboration with regional
steering committees. The aims are to share thinking and ideas
on key current development issues and to raise awareness. Participants
are invited from a range of sectors including development NGOs,
business, trade unions, politicians, local government, different
faiths, education, academia and the wider voluntary sector. Each
Forum combines working groups with a panel discussion led by a
member of DFID's Ministerial Team and attendance between 100-150.
We have received positive feedback from the three events held
to date. Participants have welcomed the chance to exchange views
with senior officials and Ministers, and all have agreed that
they have left with a deeper knowledge and understanding of the
issues. The attached booklet sets out the process in more detail.
Our overall assessment of the value of these
processes is positive. However, it is important to be clear about
(and communicate to participants) the purpose of consultation.
The Policy Forum process in particular is much more about deepening
understanding and raising awareness, than about specific policy
change. Our evidence is that there is a demand for this sort of
exercise, alongside the more targeted policy consultation processes.
If you would like any further information, please
Rt Hon Clare Short MP
4 April 2000