Participate: Knowledge from the margins for post-2015

The Participate initiative is providing high quality evidence on the reality of poverty at ground level, bringing the perspectives of the poorest into the post-2015 debate.

Participate aims to:

  • Bring perspectives of those in poverty into decision-making processes
  • Embed participatory research in global policy-making
  • Use research with the poorest as the basis for advocacy with decision-makers
  • Ensure that marginalised people have a central role in holding decision-makers to account in the post-2015 process
  • Generate knowledge, understanding and relationships for the global public good

Key activities include:

Participate is co-convened by the Institute of Development Studies and Beyond 2015, but the initiative is only possible because of the energy, expertise and vision of numerous organisations committed to participatory research. Participate is funded by the UK Government. For more information contact [email protected]

The Participate team is providing regular updates through Twitter using these hashtags: #post2015; #beyond2015; #post2015HLP and #worldwewant. Follow the debates live on our Twitter and Facebook profiles: @participate2015, @workwithus2015 and

For more updates check the Participate blog.

Reviewing lessons from large-scale consultation processes

Previous global consultations have been experienced by many as ‘extractive’ – with poor people feeling that their voice has been used for political ends which are not their own. There are considerable lessons to be learned about what to do, and what not to do, if the future of development is to be ‘owned’ by those who are most affected by it.

Facilitating a global Participatory Research Group (PRG)

Current participatory research projects gathering knowledge from the margins on the post-2015 debate are brought together through the PRG. This group has been supported through methodological workshops for reflection and innovation, including participatory visual work and documentation of the processes involved. Read more information on the PRG Members or view a map

Analysing and synthesising recent and current participatory studies

Two analyses have been carried out: the first was of recent participatory studies that pertain to the MDGs; the second was all of all of the current participatory work carried out by the PRG. Both the synthesises were conducted in an iterative way, with findings translated into a series of comprehensive research outputs and key policy messages for decision makers, while retaining their legitimacy with the people who produced them.

Creating a Ground Level Panel (GLP) to mirror the work of the High Level Panel (HLP)

Participate worked with four PRG partners in Brazil, India, Egypt and Uganda to organise GLPs to deliberate on the future of development and produce its own recommendations. Among others, the participants included dwellers of city slums, pastoralists who walk with cattle across bush lands in search of water, refugees from war, and small farmers whose crops have failed in response to climate change.

Putting cameras in the hands of the poorest to make their own films that tell their own stories

Participatory visual processes can reveal and communicate powerfully about experiences from the margins. Six participatory visual processes were supported and facilitated to provide contextualised examples of the complex and nuanced understanding of the subjective aspects and consequences of development. In parallel, a documentary film, Work with us: Community-driven research inspiring change, has brought together learning on the key themes that surface, and how such processes can re-position ground level perspectives for open dialogue with policy-makers.

Building partnerships with NGOs and other agencies doing research in the poorest communities

With an emphasis on engaging marginal communities directly, this initiative is distinct from efforts to engage civil society organisations in the post-2015 debate. However, this work provides a valuable means of triangulating and verifying evidence from both sources, and we will partnerships with relevant NGO and CSO led advocacy efforts to multiply impact where possible.


Recent work


Participate Proposal for Post-2015 Targets

The Participate initiative provides high quality evidence on the reality of poverty at ground level, bringing the perspectives of the poorest into the post-2015 debate. The research demonstrates that there are certain focus areas that need to be addressed to achieve sustainable positive change...

1 April 2014


We Can Also Make Change’ – Briefing Paper

This briefing draws on the real-life stories of persons with disabilities and older people in Bangladesh, as told to researchers in the Voices of the Marginalised project entitled 'We can also make change'.

23 September 2013