Why is science important for local democracy development?

World Science Day for Peace and Development 2022

Researchers work day and night to make sense of the world we live in. The interdisciplinary field of international development within academia looks at digitalization, governance, climate change, equitable health, gender dynamics and conflict analysis (we can keep going) – towards socially, environmentally and economically sustainable societies.

But research needs to reach policy for change to happen. Just as policy needs research for good decision-making.

This is what we work for at ICLD – data-driven, well-founded policy transformation based on solid research. We try to pave the way for implementation and action. Three new research projects have recently received impact grants from ICLD to help solve municipalities’ policy dilemmas and needs. Using Participatory Action Research, studies intertwine research and low-cost interventions for democratic change.

The three ongoing projects are:

These projects create transformation in local democracy through co-producing impact. This is more than pushing reports into the hands of politicians. In a collaborative, cyclical process of research, dissemination, uptake and implementation, knowledge can be continuously mobilized between academia and practice.

Image from “Co-produced Pathway to Impact Describes Knowledge Mobilization Processes”, by David Phipps, Joanne Cummings, Debra Pepler, Wendy Craig, and Shelley Cardinal, published in the Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship, Vol. 9, No. 1

On this very day, the Child-Focused Cities group are in Livingstone, Zambia to map out how child rights are perceived and upheld in the local government. Concluding the first step in their joint ambition, the researchers emphasize the generosity, input and critical reflections of their municipal partners and the exchanges they have created as unbelievably valuable.

For this World Science Day for Peace and Development, we emphasize the urgency of connecting research and practice (it is believable and doable!). Science is critical thinking. Science is refuting disinformation. Science is tailoring solutions to the actual needs. In a world where democracy is sliding back, science continues to be crucial for equity, inclusion, transparency and accountability in governance at all levels.

The CFCAF group explore contextual specificities around the participation of children and youth in their everyday life environments with municipality representatives of Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe).