In 2017 we shall be engaging members in the process of developing IACD’s Policy Position on an International Code of Ethics and Occupational Standards, which we expect to publish at a launch event later in 2018.

As part of this consultation we shall be holding a consultative session at our forthcoming international conference in New Zealand this February.  See below for further background information on this.

In 2016 the IACD board approved its global definition of Community Development. 

“Community development is a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that promotes participative democracy, sustainable development, rights, economic opportunity, equality and social justice, through the organisation, education and empowerment of people within their communities, whether these be of locality, identity or interest, in urban and rural settings”.

IACD’s Position Statements



IACD’s Policy Statement on an International Code of Ethics and Occupational Standards

In recent years a number of national Community Development associations and agencies have produced National Standards for Community Development. These describe what a person needs to do, know and understand to carry out good quality Community Development practice, and assist in the professional development of the workforce by promoting good practice, bringing together the skills, knowledge and values that underpin the work.

In addition there has been a growing interest in producing Codes of Ethics for professional practice. Such Codes are used to:

Express the distinctiveness or identity of CD
Articulate the shared value base that we have
Challenge, examine and reflect on our practice
Promote professional dialogue and understanding
Provide accountability
Offer reassurance and protection, for workers and the communities they work in
Deal with tensions with other partners and define our limits in partnership work
Support learning for new entrants and students.
We recognise that not all IACD members will be able to attend the February conference. So we are hoping to provide a livestream facility to enable those who cannot attend to engage in the consultation session. In addition we are keen to hear your thoughts about our proposal to adopt international occupational standards and a code of ethics for Community Development Practice.

At the February conference we held workshops to reflect again on what practitioners and those entering practice (final year students) felt were the key areas of skills, knowledge and underpinning values required of today’s community development practitioner, wherever you might be working and whatever your job title. We will be suing this brainstorming to inform the next stage of this work.


Workshops held at the IACD/ACDA international conference, February 2017.



  • Organising
  • Able to instil trust
  • Resilience and ability to sit with and manage change
  • Educational (formal and informal)
  • Able to engage and connect easily
  • Able to work with diverse communities, ideally with indigenous languages and awareness of culture of people you are working with (e.g. dress codes)
  • Good written and oral communication – ability to build a case and write a report. Ability to turn technical language into Plain English (language)
  • Listening and questioning
  • Small ‘p’ political
  • Facilitation
  • Group work
  • Project management and business planning
  • Administrative
  • Use of ICT and media
  • Problem solving
  • Networking
  • Strategic thinking, seeing things holistically
  • Managing conflict and ability to mediate
  • Being passionate
  • Being transparent but also able to keep things confidential as appropriate
  • Self-reflection and emotional intelligence
  • Awareness of need for continuous learning
  • Research and analysis
  • Confidence
  • Leadership
  • Fundraising
  • Tenacious
  • Flexible
  • Ability to work bottom up and top down when necessary
  • Advocacy
  • Networking
  • Negotiating
  • Political
  • Awareness of one’s own power and ability to influence
  • Ability to take the lead when necessary to help with group decision-making
  • Ability to assist community to take the lead and to know when to step back
  • Self care
  • Energy
  • Empathy


  • Community development theory and history nationally and internationally
  • National and international policies as they impact/relate to CD
  • Different understanding of community – interest, place, identity
  • Sustainable development, especially the SDGs
  • Local knowledge
  • Urban and rural planning and participative planning
  • Structural theories of causes of poverty/disadvantage/inequality
  • Project management and business planning
  • Fundraising and where to get money and resources
  • Politics and public policy
  • Sociology
  • Psychology
  • Ecology


  • Being open minded
  • Respect for difference
  • Social justice
  • Environmental justice
  • Political justice
  • Human rights
  • Equal rights Anti-discrimination – gender/race/ability etc.
  • Sensitivity to different cultures and cultural norms
  • Not being neutral – being e.g. on the side of the poor and disadvantaged
  • Dedication
  • Professionalism
  • Accountability of decisions
  • Respect
  • Honesty and integrity
  • Compassionate
  • Reliability
  • Humility
  • Kindness

It may be that you already have similar lists/ statements in your country that we are not aware of. Please send these to marked CD Standards. If you are interested in participating via Livestream in the consultation workshop, please let us know before the end of February.

Following the February conference, we shall be working in partnership with the Community Learning and Development Standards Council based in Scotland (where IACD is based) to draft a consultation paper which will be sent for comment to all IACD members. This consultation period will run from September 2017 to the New Year and will be followed by a consultation event in Scotland, after which a final draft Position Statement will be submitted to the full IACD Board for adoption and this will be launched at the 2018 World Community Development Conference in Ireland in June 2017.

Further background:

Research by IACD has identified several hundred graduate level training programmes which include Community Development as a part of the undergraduate degree[2]. Some were specialist Community Development degrees; others link community development with other disciplines such as Health, Economic Development, Social Work, Rural Development or International Development. This research did not look in detail at what these degrees taught nor tried to assess their quality, but the fact they exist and are marketed as providing education and training to enable students to enter a career in Community Development indicates that practice is taking place in many countries across the developing and developed world.
IACD does not have information has to the size of this workforce internationally, but anecdotal evidence from the members attending the IACD/CDS workshops and generally from IACD members around the world, indicates that since the financial crash in 2008 and subsequent public sector cuts there has been a significant fall in the number of community development practitioners employed directly by public bodies, such as local government. In addition reduction in public expenditure has also influenced the funding available for non-governmental organisations working nationally and internationally to employ community development type posts. That said a very rough guesstimate of the international professional community development workforce would run into many tens of thousands.

The adoption of the SDGs by the U.N. presents a huge opportunity for Community Developers to demonstrate how to build the capacities of communities to engage in the SDG agenda, whether that be strengthening the resilience of communities to deal with climate change, to health promotion, poverty reduction and lifelong education.
In 2016 the Board of IACD approved the 2016-20 Strategic Plan. This included the following strategic priority – To advocate for the discipline and the methods of Community Development. This has been taking taken forward in the Association’s work plan, working with national partners.
The fact that different national CD networks and agencies have produced National Occupational Standards and Codes is a tremendous starting point. Over the past two decades or more work has been undertaken in different countries to agree the competences required for practice and thereby what knowledge, skills and values practitioners should have. The National Standards and Codes that we identified however have generally emerged in developed countries and primarily for work within those countries. IACD is not aware of National Occupational Standards or Codes of Ethics having been devised for Community Development practice in developing countries, although some may exist. Also all of the Standards that we have identified pre-date the adoption of the SDGs and need to be adapted in light of that.

Further reading: