New Director of Research boosts knowledge and research

PhD Ana Maria Vargas Falla took over as Director of Research at the Knowledge Centre on 1 February.  Ana Maria has a PhD and comes from Lund University, where she conducted research in urban development and strengthening poor people’s living conditions, and has worked as a tutor within the Masters programme in Development Studies. Ana Maria has also worked within the UN system and acted as a speaker in ICLD’s training programmes. A coordinator will also be recruited in the spring of 2017 to further strengthen the Centre’s resources. 

Three quick questions for Ana Maria Vargas Falla, new Director of Research at ICLD:

Is there any particular issue within the field of decentralisation and local democratic development research that you are particularly keen to focus on?
“There have been some improvements, but we are still living in a world in which a few people have too much and many people have too little. Almost one billion people suffer from extreme poverty, women are disadvantaged, and we are all affected by environmental destruction. If we are to change the world, we must work globally, but we must also, above all, work locally. And first and foremost we must understand how we, at a local level, in the local democracy, can improve social integration and participation so that we can all work together to solve the contemporary challenges that we face.

Have you identified any new developmental areas for ICLD’s Knowledge Centre?
“I believe that ICLD can make a contribution in an area that will become very important in the future, namely Peace-building at a local level. Many countries are still suffering civil wars and I can see huge potential for using ICLD’s experience and expertise in local democracy to help build peace. 

How do you see ICLD increasing the interaction between research and practice?
“We will be inviting leading researchers and students to contribute to and participate in our programmes to a greater extent, and practitioners can contribute to the research by talking about the challenges and issues with which they are wrestling. We must clearly make use of and disseminate the research as part of our work and our efforts to help make the world a better place. But equally, research must obviously address society’s challenges. Improving this dialogue will be a major part of my role at ICLD.