ZEF Public Lecture: Capacity Building for Sustainable Development - State and Outlook

March 21, 2024 | 13:30 h - 14:30 h

We'd like to invite you to our upcoming Public Lecture!

Topic: Capacity Building for Sustainable Development - State and Outlook

Speakers: Prof. Dr. Oliver Serfling and Ms. Taisiya Lebedeva (Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences, Kleve)

The lecture will be held in hybrid mode (zoom and in-person at ZEF). 
You can join us in-person at ZEF, ground floor, conference room, Genscherallee 3, 53113 Bonn,
or online via Zoom: https://uni-bonn.zoom-x.de/j/61953431990?pwd=RS8wM2dRdEN1ZW95cUVvVzI3NGlQZz09


The concept of Capacity Building or Capacity Development (CD) emerged in the early 1990s, and gained official recognition with the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness in 2005 and the Accra Agenda for Action in 2008. Since then, CD has been widely referred to in development practice, even though lacking theoretical foundation. We argue that a CD intervention needs to jointly address three levels, the individual-, organizational-, and system-level, to achieve actual transformational change, as these levels are highly complementary.
We apply computational text analysis methods on a harmonized dataset of project data from five large multilateral donor organizations, to trace the significance of the concept in development practice in terms of number and volume of projects and its breadth across sectors and regions. Our findings show that overall approx. 3% of all projects pertain to CD, claiming 1% of all project funding. Obviously, the concept gained traction in the years 2000-2010 but lost most of its substance since 2010. Important sectors of capacity development are Public Administration, Agriculture and Urban Development. Sub-Saharan Africa stands out across the regions as having the largest number and the highest volume of CD projects.
Both findings, from the theoretical and empirical domain, potentially challenge current CD practices and call for further conceptualization


Dr. Oliver Serfling is Professor of Economic Policy and Development Economics at the Faculty of Society and Economics of Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences in Kleve, Germany. He chairs the competence center on societal transformation (ccst) and is academic director of the Master’s Degree Program on Sustainable Development Management. He led various international consortia with a focus on capacity building in higher education. Before rejoining academia, he worked internationally in policy advice and as a project manager in a World Bank financed project in South-East Asia. He is co-founder of the market- and opinion-research company Civey GmbH in Berlin. He studied economics at Goethe University of Frankfurt and received his Ph.D. from the University of Basel, Switzerland. He researches, teaches and publishes on current development policy issues and methodological questions in survey research.

Ms. Taisiya Lebedeva holds a master’s degree in Sustainable Development Management and a bachelor’s degree in Economics. She is working as a research assistant on the topic of “Capacity Building global” within the project “TransRegInt – Transformation of the Lower Rhine Region: Innovation, sustainability, participation” at the Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences in Kleve, Germany.


Fazlullah Akhtar

Dr. Fazlullah Akhtar


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