Last week, over 300 RESULTS advocates from across the globe joined together to celebrate 30 years of RESULTS at the International Conference in Washington DC. Whilst the majority of participants were advocates from groups around the USA, there were also participants from Australia, Canada, DR Congo, France, India, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Zambia… and of course the UK (proudly represented by Aparna, Julia and Louise).
Before the conference started, we participated in a workshop titled ‘Everything you ever wanted to know about the World Bank on health and education’. Only at a RESULTS conference would you get 90 people turning up at 9am on a Sunday morning to talk about the World Bank! This was a great opportunity for everyone to get up to speed on two new reports produced by RESULTS Educational Fund and the Action Project: Aid Without Impact, How the World Bank and Development Partners are Failing to Improve Health Through SWAps and World Bank Financing for Education, Less or More for the Poor in IDA 16? ahead of our meetings with the World Bank later in the week.
The conference kicked off properly on Sunday evening after some skills building workshops and opportunities to catch up with friends new and old. There was a celebratory mood as we reflected on the past 30 years of RESULTS and giggled at photographs that showed the changing haircuts and fashion senses of RESULTS staff and volunteers throughout the years.
On Monday morning we heard from special guest Marianne Williamson, a well-known American author and spiritual leader. Marianne is a member of RESULTS USA’s board and is doing amazing work to help introduce RESULTS to new audiences.
RESULTS networks and other partners from around the world gave short presentations about our work over the past 12 months. Following the UK presentation, many people remarked about the inspiring work that is going on here. When it was mentioned that the new UK government was planning to enshrine the 0.7 percent ODA target into law and had a strong commitment to ‘results’ there was rapturous applause!
The Monday afternoon plenary sessions were a real highlight as once again the International Conference was able to attract high quality speakers. We heard first from Lester Brown from the Earth Policy Institute who talked about how we can all help to create a new economy based on renewable sources of energy and that works towards the eradication of poverty.
We also heard from Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Ethiopian Minister for Health and current Chair of the Board for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, and Kul Gautam, former Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF and Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations. Tedros and Kul gave an inspiring history of the role that RESULTS has played in driving forward the agenda for child survival and mobilising support for the Global Fund, as well as the work we have ahead of us to ensure that gains made in global health are not reversed in light of the financial crisis.
The conference drew to a close on Tuesday with an exciting Lobby Day that took many grassroots activists to Capitol Hill to meet with their congressional representatives. RESULTS staff from around the world met with the health and education teams at the World Bank to discuss the two recently released reports on health and education. The UK team also had a productive meeting with Susanna Moorehead, the UK Executive Director of the World Bank.
The evening reception held on Capitol Hill at the end of the Lobby day was a great opportunity to hear from members of the US Congress and Senate how they themselves became involved in global health issues and microfinance through the hard work of RESULTS grassroots advocates. In so many countries where RESULTS works, it is proof of the power that can be harnessed by informed grass roots advocates being able to effect positive change within all our governments, especially when it comes to having the ‘power to end hunger and poverty.’