Welcome from the Chair

Here we are in 2023, who would have thought that last year saw us emerge from a global pandemic, only for the world to be affected by a new war on Europe’s edge, that takes much needed attention and resources away from the many other crises in the form of conflict (Yemen, Myanmar, the Sahel Region), climate change (causing drought in the Horn and East Africa, floods in Pakistan) and cost-of-living challenges everywhere.

Yet, on we go. We at DSAI aim to create a platform to discuss all these issues and much more besides this year.

I would like to introduce myself, I am Pieternella Pieterse and I have taken over the reins from Nita Mishra. I would like to thank our outgoing Chair for her two years of dedication to the role. I have been a Steering Committee member for the past two years, so DSAI is not new to me, and I am looking forward to meeting many of you in the coming year in my role as Chair. I am based at Dublin City University where I am a researcher and sometimes lecturer. My main focus is on health systems research and I work as a principal investigator on a project about Sierra Leone.

I will take this opportunity to look back our wonderful last annual conference that was held at the University of Limerick in November 2022. Our theme was based around the question: Are the SDGs still fit for purpose? We could not have hoped for a more interactive evening reception and conference day. Throughout the event we were able to make very real and strong connections between the Global South and North. Connections between our research, or work, that relates to aiming to achieve SDG targets, and many Irish based conference speakers’ and attendees’ work, lifestyles, their small acts of resistance in the form of sustainable living, that are in direct dialogue and solidarity with the Global South. I have never experienced so many people buoyed by speakers such as emeritus professor Peadar Kirby, Hans Zomer of Global Action Plan and Carolyn White of Feasta.

In the closing statements, Peadar Kirby commented that our conference theme should be not just the theme for this year, but for every year. I agree with him, and I believe that we should continue to hold events on all topics, placing this question front and centre: what (climate) actions can I make to contribute to a better world? The days of considering International Development as something that may be researched, and worked on, here, but that happens there, are behind us. We’re all connected, we are in this together.

If this speaks to you, please Join us. DSAI membership is free. Get involved.

We will be guided by the idea of sustainable development as an integral part of international development. And we invite you all to join us in this endeavour! These concepts of connection and solidarity are not new or naïve, they remain important components of current debates about our field of work and study. A field that includes many difficult questions that need to be confronted; decolonisation, racism, gender inequality, migration, increasing inequity and poor governance. Questions of how we are going to financially support those affected by conflict and climate change in the future; and how do we stop new proxy wars between the large powers from contributing to new conflicts? DSAI’s ten study groups, our research methods summer school, the annual conference, and other collaborative forums is where we will be having these debates and you are invited to join us.

Our vibrant study groups plan to continue their collaborations locally, nationally, and internationally to take the debate on ‘development’ beyond borders. DSAI’s website is where you will find discussion papers, reports, working papersseminars and workshops.

So once again, on behalf of DSAI, I invite you to support and act upon the Irish Dream of creating a Better World. Join us during some of our events this year, online or in-person. Contact us if you have an idea, a speaker you would like to invite, a written piece that may be suitable. We welcome you all.

Pieternella Pieterse