Impact Story

Building regional networks for development

Published on 16 August 2021

In 2020 IDS launched the International Initiatives, a network of partnerships that facilitate research and collaboration to strengthen mutual learning for development. The network spans places at the leading edge of development thinking and practice, due to accelerating geopolitical change.

The Initiatives launched as pilots in Brazil, China, Europe, Ghana and Pakistan. The ambition is that the network expands further according to research and partnership priorities. While the Initiatives promote global cooperation across the network, each is designed for the context in which it exists, with local environments and partnerships defining the research focus and operation. The concept maps directly to our Strategy and commitment on creating research and mutual learning hubs.

Enriching and creating equitable partnerships

The first year of the programme had an immediate impact on fostering equitable partnerships. IDS has 12 Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with partners across the five geographies, enabling collaborative research, teaching, policy engagement and learning activities.

With our Brazilian partner, Articulação Sul, IDS is scoping a trilateral development cooperation collaboration between the UK, Brazil and African countries to help the latter meet the challenges and harness the potential of rapidly growing populations. The collaboration engages with and learns from Brazil’s world-leading ecosystem of institutions to generate, analyse and operationalise data in national planning and poverty reduction policy. It involves the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) and the Brazilian Cooperation Agency.

The Initiatives in Europe and Pakistan created platforms to share practical reflections on ways to ‘build back differently’ from Covid-19. Globally prominent academics, practitioners and policymakers took part in two webinar series – Youth Employment and Politics coordinated by the European Engagement Initiative, and the Mahbub ul Haq Distinguished Lecture Series coordinated by the Pakistan Hub.

Mobilising knowledge for impact

Events and co-authored publications linked to the International Initiatives are helping to promote the use of evidence in development practice and policymaking. More than 2,300 people accessed our related news and opinion pieces, and more than 113,000 viewed or attended our public events virtually.

Our event ‘State–citizen trust through Covid-19’ with partners from China, Pakistan, Brazil and the UK advocated shared learning across contexts to strengthen institutional trust during the pandemic and beyond.

The event ‘Building ahead from Brazil’s pandemic’ on agri-food systems was coordinated with Instituto Ibirapitanga, the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro, and the Open University. Participants and panellists gave positive feedback. A dedicated repository of 80-plus Brazil IDS Initiative outputs was created to promote our collaborative work, such as on agri-food systems, to a global audience.

The Agricultural Policy Research in Africa programme pivoted its activities to assess the impact of Covid-19 on food systems and livelihoods in southwestern Ghana, with recommendations on building resilience among vulnerable groups.

 Co-constructing research agendas

The Initiatives convened a series of events with eminent thinkers to co-develop research agendas towards transformative change. These included a gender and cities roundtable between IDS and Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) that will contribute to the co-development of the South Asia Human Development Report in 2021.

New funded research projects began this year, including a collaboration with LUMS on the informal economy in Pakistan; and a project mapping China’s experience of promoting sustainable urbanisation and exploring their relevance to Ghanaian and Kenyan cities.

Find out more about our partnerships at www.ids.ac.uk/partnerships