The VIDC has a long tradition in the field of development cooperation in Austria and was founded at the “Conference for Economic Cooperation and Partnership”, which took place in July 1962 in Salzburg and Vienna. The organisation was founded by Bruno Kreisky and other prominent politicians from the so called “Third World” such as Tom Mboya from Kenya and Ahmed Ben Salah from Tunisia as a think-tank for development cooperation and development policy, making it the oldest Austrian organisation in development policy and cooperation.
The initial goal was inspired by the necessity of peaceful cooperation between industrial countries and “developing countries” on the basis of a “dialogue on a par”. This implies extensive research into topics of “development policy” in Austria, organising conferences and panel discussions, holding exhibitions, publishing educational sources and the series “new development policy” as well as papers about various topics of “development policy”.
After the first phase of euphoria during the years when the institute was founded, when international problems began for the North-South-Dialogue, it was time for a complete reorientation that led to an entirely new concept of the institute. This led to the new formation into the “Vienna Institute for Development and Cooperation Fund” on January 1st, 1987. With the new foundation of the institute, a new direction in content emerged, which, in the long run, led to a de-politicisation on the one hand and to a stronger concentration on civil society, based on expertise and cooperation with the Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs on the other hand.
The core of the VIDC went through a process of reorganisation in 2005, it was renamed DPR “Development Policy Research”. DPR is first and foremost dedicated to coordinating interdisciplinary networks of knowledge and establishing a basis for operative programme and project development in the areas of focus in Austrian development cooperation, especially in the fields of combating poverty, of democratisation, governance and gender policy.The VIDC has advisory status in ECOSOC, the Economic and Social Council of the UN.
In the 1990s, in the course of the Africa festival “Sura za Africa” in 1996 a new department “moving cultures” was founded, starting with its own culture department at the VIDC and resulting in hundreds of cultural events which brought a whole new diversity to the institute. “moving cultures” deals with the cultural exchange between European, African, Asian and Latin-American countries, coordinates cultural festivals, tours, exhibitions, exchange projects, workshops and readings, acts as an agent for artists, organisers and schools, and functions as an advisor for migrants,, as such also being active in inter-cultural projects.
One year later, on the occasion the European Year against Racism, the department “FairPlay. Different colours. One game” was launched, an initiative against racism in sport, focusing on football and an acknowledged UEFA partner. FairPlay cooperates with many football clubs, fan clubs, migrant organisations and schools; it also engages in inter-cultural activities, especially in Austrian football. Since 1997 FairPlay has been a partner of the European Commission and a founder member of the network “Football against Racism in Europe” (FARE), which was founded in Vienna in 1999. The networks goal is to fight racism in European football. Currently, over 200 initiatives, projects, organisations and clubs in 33 European countries are active in FARE.
Since autumn 2013, the NorthSouth Dialogue of Parliaments is also part of the VIDC. The NorthSouth Dialogue of Parliaments is a project aiming at social and political cooperation, especially with the parliaments of Mozambique, Portugal and Austria.
With the activities described above, the VIDC fulfils the cause stated in the terms of reference in a profound way, namely to foster international, inter-disciplinary development cooperation with numerous contacts and in its function as an agency, to distribute information and to engage in a variety of co-operations.