This years theme:
Local Democracy Academy: Global Disruptions and Local Democracy for a Post-Covid World

The 2020 Local Democracy Academy will explore how is local democracy affected because of different disruptions and what are possible transformative pathways? The academy is organised around interactive and participatory sessions. Participants are expected to contribute, read, write and actively engage during the entire week. The academy is divided into the following sessions: Thematic streams, Training Sessions, Writing workshop on Local Governments responses to Covid-19, Inspiring Lectures and Local Policy Makers Dialogue.

Day 1

December 14

13:00 – 13:15

Welcome to the Academy


Johan Lilja, Secretery General of ICLD
Annika Björkdahl, Professor, Lund University
Kafula Mutale, Lusaka City Council

13:15 – 13:30

Introduction to the Academy


Ana Maria Vargas, ICLD

13:30 – 13:50

Introduction to the Participants

Session Leaders – ICLD Faculty

13:50 – 14:00


14:00 – 15:00

Open session- Panel:
Local Democracy and Covid-19: Lessons learnt

The Corona virus has impacted citizens all over the world. In many countries local governments have become key actors in leading their communities through this crisis. While some governments are using the corona virus as an excuse to impose top-down policies and enhance authoritarian powers, many local governments are making democracy a key part of their response to the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

This panel will discuss lessons learnt from local governments’ responses to the Covid-19. The panel will start with a 15 minutes presentation om “The Swedish Way to Covid-19: Understanding the Role of Local Governments”, by Anders Knape, President of Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions.

Key Questions for the panel:

How local governments responded to the needs of vulnerable groups during the Covid-19 crises?

Citizen participation
How are citizens taking part in local decision-making processes that affects them?  

How are citizens getting information regarding the decision-making in your municipality?
How are local governments acting to prevent the misuse of power for private gain?

Possibility to demand accountability
How are citizens expressing their opinions on decisions taken to limit the spread of the virus?
How are they demanding accountability of their leaders regarding the decisions linked to the covid-19 response?
What are the formal and informal (i.e. protests, gossip) channels used to hold local governments accountable?

More about the panel


Anders Knape, President of Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions.
Emilia Saiz, Secretary General of United Cities and Local Governments UCLG
James Manor, Professor Emeritus of School of Advanced Study, University of London
Imen Ouardani Vice Mayor of the City of Sousse Tunisia


This panel will be livestreamed and it is open to anyone who wants to participate. Registration is required for those who haven’t registered to the academy already.

Day 2

December 15

13:00 – 13:10

Welcome to the Thematic Sessions


Staffan Smedby, Sida

13:10 – 15:00

Thematic and Training session

Thematic session

  1. Human Rights Cities as a response to exclusion
  2. Covid 19 and Vulnerability
  3. Covid 19 and Participation
  4. Local governments pathways towards the SDGs

Training session

Digital methods to research local democracy with Stefania Milan

The digital environment offers a number of possibilities for research that is COVID-proof. In this session, we will learn about three potential trajectories for research online: a) online ethnography and observational methods, and the challenges of moving to the online sphere (e.g., chat apps…), b) the possibilities offered by open data made available by public administrations and the software(s) to analyse them, and c) how to study the effects of personalization algorithms on social media to test the impact of political microtargeting on, e.g., elections. The session includes a presentation but also group work where participants will have the chance to ”get their hands dirty” in devising a research design for the digital realm.  


Stefania Milan

Associate Professor of New Media and Digital Culture, University of Amsterdam

Day 3

December 16

02:00 – 04:00 AM

Note that this time is for
participants in Asian, Australian, US West coast time zones

13:00 – 15:00

17:00 – 18:30

Training Session

Participatory Video for research and engagement

Crystal Tremblay

Thematic Session

6. Climate action in local governments
7. Governing with integrity and transparency
8. Covid 19 and Local Democracy

Training Session

Netnography for the COVID Age with Professor Robert Kozinets

In this session, Prof Kozinets introduces and explains netnography, casting the discussion at a pragmatic level appropriate to junior and senior academic researchers. The goal of the session is to better understand, and perhaps utilize, some of these qualitative research techniques. Elements covered in this session will help participants understand ways that researchers have been adapting to the new contingencies of the age of COVID-19 including an advance peek at the upcoming edited netnography volume about its adaptations across academic and practice fields.

The final part of the session will be interactive, featuring a short, focused exercise, and discussion that can help researchers get started with their own netnographic research project.


Professor Robert Kozinets

Day 4


December 17

12:45 – 14:00

(session 1)

14:15 – 15:15

(session 2)

Day 5

December 18

13:00 – 15:00

Concluding Speach

Beyond the Hype: Leveraging Data and Technology for
Local Democracy.


Tiago Carneiro Peixoto, Governance Specialist, The World Bank

Download the programme here

Background to this year’s theme

2020 has been characterized by disruptions, all of which are simultaneously global and local. The global spread of Covid-19 has very different local level ramifications and responses everywhere, depending on geography and socioeconomic context. Local governments are simultaneously challenged by the climate crises, the rise of protest and civil unrest, increase racial, gender and class inequality, and the decline in human rights protections, among others. Parallel to this, citizens in many countries, and many cities, have been taking to the streets to protest unjust treatment by the authorities. These protests have been local in their focus but global in their scope and have opened up the space for the re-imagining of citizen engagement.