Local Democracy Labs

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Local Democracy Labs

ICLD Local Democracy Labs is a space for local government officers and politicians to meet researchers and have a dialogue on global challenges with a local perspective. They are inspired in efforts to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals with local policies.

Local governments, engaged in either the Municipal Partnership Programme, or our International Training Programme can participate in the labs by sending a question they want to discuss with a group of competent and leading researchers in the field of local democracy. By getting input from experts on a specific question, local government officials can gain an interdisciplinary perspective and be equipped with new knowledge. Researchers can contribute with their expertise, problematize the issues raised, share relevant cases and provide policy recommendations. Thus, researchers contribute with their knowledge and get inspiration for further research.

The Local Democracy Labs does not require special preparation. We would like it to be experienced as a friendly conversation where research and practice meet and where all ideas are welcomed. Of course, the digital format poses both opportunities and challenges when discussing such important matters, but nevertheless we are trying to do something that contributes to a more informed understanding of the questions at hand.


The format is simple:

  • One question from municipal politicians or civil servants
  • One hour for discussion
  • One meeting between researchers and local government officials and politicians.

Prior to conducting a Local Democracy Lab, we at the ICLD reach out to scholars that we think could enrich the conversation with their perspective and knowledge. The conversations in zoom are moderated by the ICLD team and the format during the hour conversation is the following

  • 5 min round of introductions: name, institution and how it relates to your research
  • 5 min for the county representatives to clarify the background of the question and why is important.
  • 40 min discussion
  • 5 min summing up

Upcoming labs

Are you a researcher interested in contributing to the discussion? Email Ida Edvinsson at ida.edvinsson@icld.se

Previous labs

The latest Local Democracy Lab was arranged for the participants of the Human Rights Network on the 20th of September 2021 with the following questions:

“How has the pandemic affected gender-based violence, how can it be fixed, and what needs to be done?”
“How do we as local government manage the pressing need for land for housing against the need to ensure the protection of our biospheres and the environment in general?”
“What is the best way to incorporate civic leaders into opening their doors to embrace youth and women participation in decision making and policy formulation?”

Our first lab was on the 4th March 2021 with the theme “Gender Equal Cities” with researchers with experience or knowledge of East Africa. Their expertise ranged within the fields of gender issues, masculinities, and city planning. The questions covered were:

“What effects has the COVID 19 Pandemic had on gender equality work ?”
“How can we change cultural norms on Gender-Based Violence while protecting family units?”
 “How do County Governments support teenage mothers (child mothers) in terms of continuation of their educational journeys and economic empowerment without negatively influencing other young girls in schools?”
“How should integrated development planning be done in order to reflect social inclusion at City level”
“How to maintain the sustainability of the gains made in the change processes of equal ownership of public transport?”

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