International Policy Dialogue: Building Paths for Social Inclusion
Within the framework of UNESCO's Management of Social Transformations (MOST) Programme, UNESCO and the Permanent Delegation of Brazil to UNESCO organize a colloquium on "International Policy Dialogue: Building Paths for Social Inclusion" that will take place on 17 November 2014, from 3 to 5 pm, at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris (Room XIII, Bonvin site). The colloquium is aimed at sharing the lessons of the Underground Sociabilities project that was carried out between 2009 and 2012 under the leadership of the London School of Economics (LSE) and UNESCO. The initiative was a multi-stakeholder research partnership that mapped life trajectories of young people and innovative strategies, mobilizing cultural activities, identity considerations and imagination, to promote bottom-up social development in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro.
Drawing on the research findings, the LSE and UNESCO have been convening, during the implementation of the project and particularly since its conclusion, a series of international events with the aim of nurturing dialogue between a cohort of different actors, including government bodies, policy-makers, NGOs, activists, researchers and disenfranchised citizens, and also highlighting the role of grassroots agencies in tackling exclusion.
This specific event will be an opportunity for knowledge exchange on the formulation of policies in favour of social inclusion among the key partners of the project and representatives of key UNESCO constituencies, including Permanent Delegations to UNESCO, academics and non-governmental organizations. It will also be the occasion to share the wealth of the project findings and its follow-up potential.
The Underground Sociabilities project was an innovative multi-stakeholder research project that brought together actors from the private sector and Brazilian NGOs (i.e. the foundations of Itaú Bank, AfroReggae and CUFA) for the purpose of studying how grassroots initiatives in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas use cultural activities, identity and imagination to regenerate public spheres and construct positive futures for young people exposed to a number of life-threatening risks, such as drugs, violence and drug trafficking wars. Through this research, government structures, academics, international organizations, NGOs, businesses and grassroots initiatives in Brazil and the United Kingdom were able to engage in an innovative and rewarding opportunity for knowledge exchange.
The key findings and lessons learned have been captured in a UNESCO publication that was launched at an international seminar, bringing together international experts, Brazilian and local authorities and civil society leaders, that was held in the fall of 2012 and hosted by the LSE.
Knowledge sharing has been a key strategy during the implementation but more importantly after the conclusion of the research project. With that in mind, LSE and UNESCO have organized a series of international events with a two-fold objective: first, to engage all concerned stakeholders in a reflection on how the lessons and findings of the specific research can spur and guide developments in the realm of policy-making; and second, to disseminate the project’s results and possibly expand its outreach to the Global South.
One of the main resources for engaging new users and generating new opportunities for knowledge exchange was the elaboration of a toolkit presenting the salient research findings. The first draft of this instrument served to enrich a series of participatory workshops that were held in May 2014 with members from the communities that had been at the centre of the research. These workshops sought to empower partner organizations and promote the appropriation by them of the main outcomes and key messages of the project, with the ultimate objective of fostering further reflection and increasing its outreach.
Currently, the project has evolved into a dialogue on the development of policies for social inclusion in Brazil and in the United Kingdom. Against this background, UNESCO and LSE are organizing a High Level International Seminar, which will take place on 14 November 2014 in London (United Kingdom) in the presence of the Brazilian Secretary of State for Social Development, among other Brazilian and UK authorities.