INCLUDE has completed its first year of the NWO-WOTRO Science for Global Development research programme: ‘New roles of CSOs for inclusive development’. Commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), this programme aims to strengthen the evidence base for the assumptions in the Theory of Change underlying the civil society policy framework ‘Dialogue & Dissent’. The MFA, together with its partners, intends to use the knowledge generated as input for the ongoing learning agenda of the current Dialogue & Dissent policy framework (2016–2020) and development of the next policy framework from 2019 onwards.
The first year of the project, which began in December 2017, has certainly been exciting. The six research groups, which were granted funding by NWO-WOTRO, started research around three core themes: CSOs and civic engagement, CSOs and the aid chain, and CSOs in an enabling environment. Over the year, two research groups were added on CSOs in an enabling environment, leading to an extension of the project until December 2019. INCLUDE organized workshops, policy dialogues and a meeting with the researchers. Reports of these events can be found on the website, including the three workshops in December 2017 (inception), May 2018 (literature review) and January 2019 (interim empirical findings), and the follow-up meeting for the first workshop that was held in February 2018. In December 2018, a seminar was organized on the ‘Chaos of urgencies’ for CBOs at the MFA. The knowledge generated has started to contribute to the evidence-base for the policy framework Dialogue & Dissent and been made available to policymakers and CSOs in the Netherlands and low and lower-middle income countries (LLMICs).
On the INCLUDE website, a page has been created for the Assumptions Programme, which includes subpages for each of the research projects (clustered around the three research themes). Knowledge products can be found for each individual research, such as factsheets, video pitches, a summary of the literature review, interim research findings and policy recommendations. Furthermore, blogs on the empirical work of the research groups are being uploaded throughout the continuation of the programme. Finally, there is a knowledge base that features policy-relevant resources for the Assumptions Programme and its policy highlights drafted by INCLUDE.
The project has been extended until 31 December 2019. It will close with a final workshop that will take place in October 2019 and the publication of a final research policy paper.