The unique feature of our model is that we link together theoretical researchers with practitioners, enabling them to inspire and uplift one another.
“It’s the laudable ambition to forge contacts between researchers and practitioners and to take on board the latest democracy research findings that makes the Advisory Group so important. It’s a signal that the latest research findings have a key part to play in ensuring that the practical work yields results,” says Anders Lidström from the Department of Political Science at Umeå University, and a member of the Advisory Group.
For Annika Björkdahl, who is a Professor of Political Science at Lund University, it is the combination of the municipal partnerships, training courses, and research that makes ICLD’s model so successful.
“For me, it’s important to help stimulate dialogue between theoretical researchers and practitioners and thereby improve political implementation vis-à-vis democratisation, equality, regeneration and development. I, myself, have practical experience from my work with both the UN and the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs – experience which, I believe, enriches my research,” says Annika.
And this unique combination of practice and theory is something that the majority of the Advisory Group members highlight as a major strength of ICLD and the Knowledge Centre.
“Experience has shown that the establishment of formal, local democratic institutions is vital, but not enough in itself to promote inclusive local development and civic involvement. We need to learn more about the socio-economic and political factors that limit local democracy. It’s here that the Knowledge Centre has an important part to play in furthering ICLD’s mandate,” says G. Shabbir Cheema, Member of the Board of the Asia-Pacific Governance and Democracy Initiative, East-West Center, in Honolulu.
Professor Merilee Grindle, from Harvard University, shares this view.
“There aren’t many organisations like ICLD, and ICLD is unique thanks to its link to SIDA. ICLD can take the best from academe and progress it towards practice, and that’s really interesting.”
But it’s also about bringing people together and allowing them to learn from one another, according to James Manor from the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London.
“There are loads of people all over the world who are working with these issues, but who are unaware of each other’s work and of the work being done in other quarters. ICLD’s Knowledge Centre brings people, issues, regions, researchers and different themes together in a way that no other organisation does, either locally or nationally.”