This year, the International Development Conference will highlight the theoretical development studies and policy research that play a predominant role in shaping development projects. When concrete, tangible policies and projects are implemented, theory and practice often fail to coincide. Development solutions and initiatives, as well as daily livelihood decisions, executed by an array of actors - from large development players to individual households - affect the lives of citizens and underdeveloped areas throughout the world. As such, critical reflections on ongoing development efforts, common consumption decisions and ingrained aspects of the world economy highlight that, while considerable victories have been attained to achieve a more just, prosperous and equitable world, attempts at reforms and aids are not without their drawbacks. 

The controversy surrounding the involvement of religious aid organizations may politicize and undermine efforts to eliminate poverty and obtain relief. Attempts to regulate small scale gold mining, while environmentally necessary, may fail to address the dilemma of gold demand in shaping the persistence of artisans gold mining. Efforts to democratize and increase the transparency of the international trade regime may succeed in incorporating sustainability as a core principal of global commerce, but tedious institutional reform may not reflect the urgency of climate change. Alongside the IDC 2017’s thematic discussions, which will explore these and more concrete development efforts through a critical lens, the conference will also host a selection of Canadian NGOs, businesses, and student researchers to showcase the diversity and innovation of new ideas and efforts shaping the development sectors today. 




Jack Caravanos currently serves as both the Director of Research for Pure Earth/Blacksmith Institute and as an Associate Professor of Environmental Public Health at Hunter College. Carrying only a few hand-held machines in his backpack, he travels to remote areas of Zambia, Indonesia and Bolivia to study lead and other toxic wastes in the earth and provide safe and healthy solutions to improve community health. In cooperation with research partner, Pure Earth, an international non-profit organization dedicated to solving pollution problems in low- and middle-income countries, Jack is working to "quantify the global burden of disease of air and soil pollutants." Using a cooperative model, he works within the structures of local governments to convince them with evidence-based research what steps they can take to lower pollution levels in soil. Impact on reducing the toxins can be staggering and with an upwards of 500 known toxic waste sites in a given country, there is still much research to do.