What is the future of international development?

Part of the Sinews of Development Speaker Series

What is the future of international development in the wake of the catastrophic climate finance crisis, American retreat from Afghanistan?




In the wake of the catastrophic climate finance crisis, American retreat from Afghanistan, and the dismembering of DFID and the slashing of aid for the world's poorest people by the Conservative government in the UK, the future of international development is looking very different.

The stunning victory of the Taliban following the chaotic and humiliating capitulation by the United States and NATO in Afghanistan has set back development in that country by decades.


As the US military scrambled to withdraw from Kabul on 29th August 2021, one of its drones killed 10 innocent civilians, including seven children. "The strike was a tragic mistake", the Pentagon admitted on 17th September.

According to a recent study by Brown University, the total cost of the war in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2022 (and future commitments) amounts to US$2.3 trillion. Al-Qaeda was crushed after 9/11, but the Taliban is back in charge and has banned girls from secondary education and even from playing football and cricket. What does all this say now about the sustainability of international development policy?


This interactive, online Sinews of Development event, which is open to all and free to attend, will be staged by the Centre of Resilience and Sustainable Development (CRSD) at the University of Cambridge. We will explore the implications of the Afghan disaster and the pusillanimity of Western leaders with a panel of leading experts.


Where do we go now in terms of international development? What are the important lessons that the West must learn? What are we really trying to achieve? What should we be thinking about now? What do these developments mean in terms of the rise of China and its influence in emerging economies? And the roles of Russia, Turkey and Iran? To what extent is the Western projection of progress, development and democracy a failed experiment? How do we turn this around?




  • Hillary Clinton, Former United States Secretary of State (TBC)
  • Cristina Lamb, OBE, International Author and Foreign Correspondent
  • Sir Peter Ricketts, Member of House of Lords of the United Kingdom
  • Pauline Rose, Director of Cambridge Global Challenges, University of Cambridge


  • Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP


  • Dr Nazia M Habib, FRSA, Research Centre Director, Centre of Resilience and Sustainable Development (CRSD)


Free event online event. Book your place via Eventbrite.


For any questions or comments email: crsd@landecon.cam.ac.uk.



This event is organised by The Resilience and Sustainable Development Programme (RSDP) a multi-disciplinary action-research initiative at the University of Cambridge, situated in the Centre for Industrial Sustainability (CIS)

For further information please contact:


Thursday 2 December 2021

18:00 – 19:30 GMT



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