His­to­ry

In 2009, the University of Kassel, nine partner universities in Africa, Asia, and Latin America as well as the International Labour Organization (ILO) created the ICDD with the aim of generating new knowledge and spearheading the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal 1: ‘Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger’, Target 2: ‘Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people’. The ICDD acquired funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) via the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and its ‘Higher Education Excellence in Development Cooperation’ (‘exceed’) programme, initially for a five-year period (2009–2014).

The ‘exceed’ programme encompassed five higher education institutions in Germany (the Technical University Braunschweig, the University of Hohenheim, the University of Kassel, Cologne University of Applied Sciences, and Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich) and their partners in developing countries between 2010 and 2019. Its main objectives have focused on strengthening these higher education institutions in the domains of education, research, and consultancy with a direct link to the development agenda of the United Nations. According to the DAAD, “the programme not only offers an exchange opportunity between German institutions and their partners from the South, but also fosters university partnerships among the participants from developing countries. As a result, the expertise of the equal partners that work in robust and expanding global networks is highly demanded in politics and civil society.” Furthermore, “in the long term, graduates will be qualified to take on leadership positions of responsibility as a result of studying in programmes that are practice-oriented and reflect the state of the art in the respective field.”

Unlike other Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the goal of full employment and decent work for all was unfortunately missed by a large margin in 2015, as reported by the ILO. Poor employment is one of the defining features of poverty, especially for those without access to arable land or the ability to grow their own food. In light of this, after an in-depth evaluation and based on the achievements of the ICDD and the other ‘exceed’ centres, the BMZ decided to prolong the ‘exceed’ programme for another five-year period (2015–2019). The post-2015 MDG debate, initiated by the United Nations, kept the target of creating decent work on the agenda as Sustainable Development Goal 8, which calls for the ‘promotion of inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all’. During phase II, following SDG 8, the ICDD maintained its research focus, modifying and expanding it to six thematic areas:

  • Decent Work along Agricultural Value Chains
  • Organizing the Informal Economy
  • Extractivism and Rural Welfare
  • Rural-Urban Linkages: Transformation Processes
  • Livelihoods and Social Protection
  • Rethinking Development Cooperation