INCLUDE, the Knowledge Platform on Inclusive Development Policies, was established in June 2012. It brings together researchers from African countries and the Netherlands who work with the private sector, NGOs and governments to exchange knowledge and ideas on how to achieve better research-policy linkages on inclusive development in Africa. The platform is one of five knowledge platforms initiated by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to contribute to knowledge and effective policies in the Netherlands, other donor countries and developing countries.
There is already a wealth of knowledge; the challenge is to make that knowledge ‘work’ for policy-makers and practitioners.
While most African countries have registered high growth in the last decade, a large number of people remain excluded from the benefits of this progress. More inclusive development requires policies for economic transformation, productive employment and social protection, to ensure that vulnerable and poor groups, especially young people and women, benefit from growth. However, such inclusive policies can only be realized if they are supported by coalitions of strategic actors across state and society that can overcome resistance to change among the ruling political and commercial elites.
To promote policy relevance, there is a strong focus on country-specific research that embeds dialogue between researchers, policy-makers and practitioners right from the outset. To this end, INCLUDE has established a research programme. The tendering for the programme was in the hands of NWO-WOTRO Science for Global Development, which has published three calls for proposals. For each theme, a number of research groups have been selected to address pressing research questions, and to bring their results to the attention of decision-makers in the public, non-profit and private sectors. In addition, INCLUDE helps to gather and package existing knowledge from a range of stakeholders. By helping to generate new insights and make knowledge available, INCLUDE supports policy dialogue and formulation on relevant inclusive development issues.
In October 2012, the Platform agreed on its overarching theme: making development in Africa more inclusive. While most African countries have registered high growth in the last decade, this does not translate sufficiently in poverty reduction. Productive employment is the key to ensure that vulnerable and poor groups, especially young people and women, benefit from growth. This requires policies for economic transformation and inclusive employment policies. However, such inclusive policies can only be realized if they are supported by coalitions of strategic actors across the state and society that can overcome resistance to change among the ruling political and commercial elites.
To address the issue, three sub-themes for further examination were identified that focus on key aspects of inclusive growth and the elimination of extreme poverty in African partner countries: productive employment, strategic actors, and social protection.
- Promoting Productive Employment: this theme aims to support research on promoting productive employment in Sub-Saharan African partner countries and a research-supported dialogue on employment promoting policies
- Identifying and Supporting Strategic Actors for Inclusive Development: this theme investigates the role that strategic actors can play in implementing policies that favour long-term inclusive development in Sub-Saharan African partner countries.
- Social Protection: this theme aims to enhance insight into the role of social protection in achieving inclusive growth and the cost-effectiveness of its interventions in doing so, compared to other social policies with the same objective.
In addition to the three core themes, INCLUDE works towards identifying matters that connect thematic issues and are cross-cutting. INCLUDE interacts closely with the different research groups, following its progress of the research projects, with partner organizations working in the Netherlands and Africa on inclusive development. The platform aims to detect synergies and opportunities for complementary activities and are approached accordingly. This helps the Platform to share a comprehensive and contextualized perspective regarding the thematic interests.