The Society for International Development (SID) was founded in Washington, DC in 1957 with the aim of exchanging information and experience among development professionals. Over the years, SID has been at the forefront of shaping the theory and practice of development, challenging existing practices and suggesting alternative approaches.
In the late 1960s SID helped to shift the focus of development attention away from economic growth as the main index of progress to look more closely at what was happening to the poor in terms of equity and income.
In the 1970s SID examined the growing interdependence among nations and supported calls for more equitable global institutional arrangements. The SID's North-South Roundtables established in 1979 aimed to bring together key policymakers, academics and analysts to discuss global issues free of the constraints and formalities of the official fora. Proposals resulting from the Roundtables influenced the preparatory processes for the first North-South Summit in Cancun in 1981, contributed to the founding of the South Commission under Julius Nyerere, gave impetus to the idea for a World Summit on Human Development (the Social Summit held in Copenhagen in 1995), and resulted in the idea of producing an annual Human Development Report (taken up by UNDP in the late 1980s).
In the 1980s SID was a pioneer in its studies of alternative development strategies, including efforts to pool experiences and learn from people-oriented movements at the local level. From the 1980s onwards SID's research and networking on women in development (SID-WID) has played a key role in the integration and promotion of gender into mainstream development thinking and practice.
In the 1990s SID was at the forefront in shifting the focus of development policy from territorial to individual security, involving parliamentarians and civil society in a definition of 'global human security' priorities and strategies. At the same time SID explored new paths of social change towards social justice from the perspective of how people in conditions of poverty sustain their livelihoods.
Since 2000, SID has been a pioneer in the use of futures-based methodologies to carry out public interest scenario programmes in Eastern Africa. These initiatives have been critical in helping society dialogue with itself during complex moments and have contributed to reducing tensions between opposing political factions.