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IACD: a brief history

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The International Association for Community Development was first established in 1953 in the USA. On moving its headquarters to Belgium in 1978, the association focused on work in francophone countries and gave grants on behalf of the Belgian government's overseas development Ministry. It was awarded UN NGO consultative status.


IACD promoted networking and information sharing through its Journal, Comm, and through regular international conferences, including this one held in Taipei, Taiwan in 1987.


Prof Rudolph Rezohazy served as President of IACD for over a decade.

In the late 1990s the IACD Board of Directors was restructured and reformed to ensure democratic control of the organisation by its members through a directly elected Board.

In 1998, IACD's headquarters moved to Scotland. Charlie McConnell, then CEO of the national community education agency in Scotland, took over the secretariat. The association was relaunched in 1999, at an international conference held in Edinburgh, Scotland. IACD was registered in Scotland as a charity and a company limited by guarantee. Gary Craig was the first President of the relaunched IACD.

The organisation has been supported by a number of important partners along the way. The Community Development Journal (CDJ) gave critical financial support in the early days of IACD's move to Scotland, and the two organisations have continued to collaborate closely. In 2004, the support of the Carnegie UK Trust enabled IACD to employ Tara O'Leary as the first Scotland-based staff member.

From its 'rebirth' in Scotland, the association has been focused on promoting, advocating for and facilitating learning and exchange about community development. As the only global network for community development, we provide a voice for small grassroots organisations, community activists and community development practitioners; and unique opportunities for people to connect, share and learn from each other about community-led development.

We have held a number of major international conferences, in collaboration with host partners, including events in New Zealand, India, Hungary, Cameroon, Hong Kong, Canada, Australia, the USA and Portugal.

These have been complemented by events which bring international perspectives to work at national/regional level, e.g. 'Together in Diversity' (Dublin, 2008) and 'Measuring What Matters' (Dundee, Scotland, 2009).

More recently, we have begun to offer smaller experiential learning programmes: our Community Leadership Programme in 2011 and Practitioner Dialogue in 2012, both in India. 

As well as providing space for sharing practice and learning, IACD events have enabled community development practitioners, activists, researchers and decision makers to come together to articulate a common vision.

Delegates at the 2004 conference, 'Building Civil Society', collaborated to produce the Budapest Declaration, a common statement on community development in Europe, directed to the EU, national governments and other key stakeholders in Europe.

The 2009 Brisbane conference produced a shared statement of intent to rethink current systems and work towards building community centred economies, "not as 'alternative' economies, but as the essential building blocks of national and global economies..." to provide genuine wealth and livelihood for all. 

IACD's consultative status with the United Nations and its agencies has enabled our members to advocate for community development principles and practices in forums such as the UN's 2009 conference on Promotion of South-South Cooperation for Development, in Nairobi, Kenya and the 2010 High Level Dialogue on Financing for Development in New York.


IACD was a participant NGO in the 2009 Moshi Dialogue on north-south collaboration in Tanzania and co-organised a follow-up workshop, focusing on southern perspectives.



IACD's activities been founded on a commitment to genuine learning and practice exchange across contexts and cultures, and a belief that community development is at its heart asset-based. 

We have a track record in research and publications. 'What in the world...?', published in 2007, explored international approaches to issues such as gender, sustainability and governance. 




Our collaboration over several years with the Carnegie UK Trust and the FierySpirits Community of Practice enabled us to gather and share learning around asset based approaches to community development. 'Appreciating Assets', published in 2011, highlights the global roots of assets approaches and some of the work being done to harness and build on various forms of community 'capital'.


Complementing this was our work with the Indigo network, from 2010-2012, which aimed to support people out of poverty in Europe by encouraging individuals and communities to build their financial assets. IACD is a member of the European Financial Inclusion Network and sits on its savings working group.

Over the years we have expanded our capacity for facilitating learning and practice exchange in ways which complement face-to-face meetings and traditional research projects.

A new, enhanced website was launched in 2010 and continues to be developed, with opportunities for members to share and interact online. Monthly ebulletins keep around 3,000 members and subscribers in touch and our facebook presence is growing. 

In 2012, we replaced our traditional newsletters with the launch of the first in a series of 'Practice Insights' publications.

These aim to highlight and explore community development approaches to challenges or issues identified by our members as being particularly important, such as poverty or empowerment.


Most importantly, IACD is a member-led organisation. Annual General Meetings (like this one in Pune, India in August 2012) are one of the many opportunities for members to have their say. Read more here.


Members may also apply to serve on IACD's voluntary Board of Directors. To learn more about our current staff and Board members, go to About.


As recent events in the UK and elsewhere have shown, sustaining networks and creating opportunities for learning and exchange is increasingly difficult. IACD is not immune to this. We have been fortunate to secure some core support from the Scottish government, from 2012-2014, but this only goes a small part of the way towards sustaining the organisation.

However, we sense a growing energy around the network and recognition that it is only through sharing approaches and learning from each other that we can sustain, improve and enrich our own practice and create a strong voice for community development. Our members and volunteer leaders are at the heart of what we do - if you would like to be part of shaping this, join us