The Lisbon Conferences are a biennial international event that foster the debate on global changes and development challenges.

 

As Development challenges are increasingly global, multidimensional, interdependent and complex, they are also linked to profound changes in the international relations architecture. The new strategic and geopolitical configurations, the threats to peace and security, the urgency of saving the planet and sustainability challenges, the geographic diversification of growth, the incoherence between poverty reduction and rising inequalities are among these challenges. These changes can be analysed through the 5P lengths (People Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnerships), which are guiding principles of our work.

 

Lisbon Conferences in the 2020's

At a global scale, the signing of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement, both in 2015, signalled an unprecedent awareness of the rising challenges and threats for Humankind and the Planet. Fulfilling these commitments depends, however, of the will and the ability of countries, regions, communities, private and public institutions, families and individuals. Besides, acting, namely regarding public goods, is often difficult – after all, why spend money or time when others might do the job?

Nevertheless, we are moving forward. Not only states but also big private companies and financial institutions are increasingly using the sustainable goals framework and metrics in their strategic plans and current investment or lending operations. Whether moved by mission, economic interest or consumers’ preferences and citizens pressure, civil society and private players are acting, some of them faster than (and even despite of) their governments. In times of acceleration and uncertainty about ongoing global transformations, sustainability is no more a subject confined to a specific institution or sector, but a shared concern for all. Hence, that may signal a move from talking about actions to acting about talks.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an agenda for action and embody an ambitious vision that, for the first time, gathers several agendas that were previously treated in a separated manner, such as protecting the environment, promoting human development or achieving peace. Unlike the Millennium Development Goals, SDGs go well beyond development cooperation for eradicating poverty in poorer countries, as they were built as a mission for all countries, to leave no one behind. Despite criticism about the complexity and quantity of areas, targets and measures involved, the SDGs acknowledge the linkages between challenges and the interrelation amongst and within countries; in that sense they result from the path of globalisation.

The focus of the Lisbon Conferences for this decade is on Global Change in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, focusing the debate on major drivers of change that are behind and that hinder or push forward the SDGs. The acceleration of global change is increasingly affecting our environment and ways of life, with the future rushing into our present lives and forcing people, societies and political systems to cope with tomorrow’s realities – some of them hard to understand or even to notice. As usual, the Lisbon Conferences are intended to be politically driven and purposely polemic, by discussing motives, factors, contexts and the role of major players.

 

Background

The Lisbon conferences result from a collaboration Protocol signed on October 13, 2013 by seven public and private organisations: Portuguese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIP), Lisbon Municipality (CML), Portugal-Africa Foundation (FPA), Institute Marquês de Valle Flôr (IMVF), University Lisbon Institute (ISCTE-IUL), Society for Development Financing (SOFID) and Union of Portuguese-speaking Capital Cities (UCCLA).

The objective was to create in Lisbon an international reference centre for a policy-oriented debate and thinking on Development, having the biennial Lisbon Conferences as a key activity. More information about the conferences held (2014, 2016, 2018) here. In order to boost the discussion and reflection on comprehensive international issues, the parties also decided to carry out other activities, particularly focusing on the ones with greater impact in Portugal and Europe.

The representatives of the founding entities therefore decided to launch the Lisbon Club, aiming to promote the debate on global matters, and notably on development-related issues, sustainability, geopolitics, geoeconomics, technological transformations and energy transitions. Since its creation, in December 2016, the Lisbon Club organises the Lisbon Conferences.