ESDU serves as a regional interdisciplinary research center, provides training, services and consultancies and hosts several large community-development projects. These projects respond to special needs or opportunities that fall outside the conventional research frameworks of individual disciplines. In a nutshell, ESDU works according to four mottos:
Livelihoods at work
ESDU serves the communities by putting people at the center of development. The implementation of its projects is based on a participatory approach, and on capacity building to improve skills, empower marginal groups and give sustainability a “chance."
Exploring solutions, defying uncertainties
ESDU has developed a strong capacity building program in participatory development for the MENA region. It is the leader in introducing and contextualizing new paradigms such as urban agriculture and food security, monitoring and evaluation, knowledge management and sharing, etc.
Arab Women: Keepers of the Land
ESDU recognizes the role of women in general and rural women in particular, in preserving the land. ESDU celebrated the women keepers of land during its 15th anniversary event in 2016 and awarded remarkable women from the private and public sector, as well from the community, for their vital role in preserving the land. In addition, it established in 2017 a fund entitled “Keepers of the Land Fund," intended to support research and education, for Arab/Palestinian graduate female students enrolled in the rural community development (RCODE) master's program.
ESDU for refugees
As a response to the food security crisis in conflicts, ESDU has decided to embed development into relief through its network of community kitchens, and serve hot nutritious meals instead of the common food assistance (cash-for-food vouchers and staple distribution). Besides the kitchens, ESDU is also building the capacity of the vulnerable communities on agriculture, and establishing urban and kitchen gardens. The sustainability of ESDU's community projects is ensured through the Food Heritage Foundation (FHF) which was conceived in ESDU then registered as an independent NGO with affiliation to ESDU.