María del Mar Palacios Córdoba is holds a PhD degree in Economic and Business Sciences from the University of Cordoba. Her doctoral thesis analysed Municipal Decentralised Cooperation, paying particular attention to the Case of the Cordoba Town Council. Her professional journey was initially linked to the university world where she was a lecturer on “Administration and Organisation of Businesses” from 1996 to 2001 in the Faculty of Economic and Business Sciences of Cordoba University (ETEA) and a lecturer on the Masters programme for Cooperation for Development and Management of NGDO at ETEA. She has directed courses on doctorate and postgraduate programmes at numerous Spanish universities. She has had various works published within the scope of Decentralised cooperation and the external action of decentralised bodies. Since 2006 she has been Area Coordinator of Education for the Development of InteRed and an active member of the group Education for Development of the Coordinating Committee of NGDO in Spain. Since 2009, she has been a member of Education for Development of the Coordinating Committee.

 Contact: InteRed, C/ Rufino González 40, 2º Izq. – 28037 Madrid, España.

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 Mar Palacios COMMENT COMENTA.pdf


This document was written in 2010 on the request of the European Actors for Development Education (DE), a group created in 2006 after the Conference on Development Education held in Helsinki. This group is composed of experts representing the member states, cooperation agencies, international organisations and civil society organisations, specifically Development NGOs.

The document offers a view of the experiences, practices and policies from each of the 27 member countries of the European Union and Norway on three levels: state institutions (departments of foreign affairs and cooperation as well as national development agencies), local and regional institutions, where applicable, and civil society organisations.

It could be said that it is one of the first attempts to undertake systematic analysis, establishing categories so as to classify the very different experiences of DE, offering an overall vision of what the European Union is doing on this front, and extracting lessons that could improve the quality of both public policies and interventions.

Before demonstrating some of the key concepts of the document, we could ask ourselves why a document of this type has been written or what the process was for enabling a document of this type to emerge. Matters relating to DE in Europe were set out and mainly – although not exclusively – promoted by NGDOs both by their political actions and proposals in this sector of intervention and by their action of political advocacy towards state governments thought the DE groups of the national NGDO platforms. But it was not until 2001 that a precedent was set at European institution level, in this case the resolution[1]  of the EU Council of Ministers on development education and awareness of European public opinion in favour of cooperation for development, in which the following is stated:

Given the global interdependence of our society, awareness through development education and of information contributes to strengthening the feeling of international solidarity and also helps to create an environment which favours the establishment of an inter-cultural society in Europe. Strengthening the level of awareness also contributes to a change in lifestyles which facilitates a model of sustainable development for all.

In 2002 the North South Centre of the Council of Europe followed suit and organised a conference on global education in Maastricht which formulated non-binding recommendations in the Declaration European Strategy Framework for improving and increasing Global Education in Europe to the year 2015[2] . In 2006, organised by the Finnish NGDO Platform, a DE conference took place in Helsinki where an agreement was reached on the need to establish a Consensus at European level on Development Education[3]  -in line with the European Consensus on Development approved in 2005- to clarify what was understood by development education in view of the different practices existing in each country and a series of common lines to adequately develop DE in EU institutions. This is comprised of a strategic framework fixing objectives, priorities and recommendations, although as in the previous case, they are not binding.

DE Watch is the result of all these meetings and previous reflections, but more than an expository document, it is based on systematisation, as previously mentioned. In its outline, four points stand out (these will not be mentioned in text order).

Firstly, the conceptual distinction between what is considered to be development education and what is not. The conceptual clarification given in the table on page 7 (English version) is interesting. The Document, following the doctrine of “European Consensus on Development Education” clearly states how “Public Relations” or institutional communication aiming for public support for development or organisations or specific institutions have nothing to do with charity, publicity for organisations or with public relations activities.

The three areas in which development education exists and can be considered as such are DE as Awareness, Global Education or Education to improve life skills. In each of the 28 countries studied, emphasis can be seen on one of these aspects, including DE for Public Relations.

The second point that I consider to be of interest is, once each country has been analysed, the explanation for the predominance of one concept or another in each case. Differing from the explanation of the different generations[4] of DE, the variable determining the predominant concept in a country would be the trajectory of the State in the field of development policy. Thus, countries incorporated into the donor club need “Public Relations” or communication to inform citizens what is cooperation for development. Countries with a wide trajectory in this sense that have managed to consolidate an institutional and citizenry structure promoting global education, move a step towards full incorporation into other public policies, especially that of education, so that this promotes the mainstreaming of DE into the formal curriculum, teacher training, etc.

The third interesting point is the way in which the countries are categorised. Two variables are used for this: commitment and experience of the national agencies or Departments of Foreign Affairs of each country and the same for national NGDOs. Categorisation offers a map in which all countries are situated according to their points in each variable (p.28 English version); consulting this map is inevitable, even solely out of curiosity.

Finally, it is interesting to consult the recommendations which distinguish the scopes of coordination and insertion of DE in the development policies, recommendations from agents involved, on the concept of DE and lastly on following DE policies, finance and practices undertaken.


[1]Council Resolution 13323/01 DEVGEN 157 in Lappalainen, R., The time is ripe for a European development education strategy, en DEEEP (2011) “DEAR Matters. Strategic approaches to development education in Europe”, pp. 8-13.

[2]The papers of the Congress and the final Declaration can be found at


 [4] Mesa, M. (2000): “Educación para el desarrollo: entre la caridad y la ciudadanía global”, Papeles 70, Madrid: Centro de Investigación para la Paz. A version of this article is published in this issue.