General statement about the approach

The main thrust of the IS Academy is to bridge the gap between academia, policy making and implementation by making existing knowledge accessible, filling the knowledge gaps and updating the policy agenda. It differs from regular research programs because of a systematic collaboration between policy makers, practitioners and academia, including their respective (southern) partners.

A. Concrete information/ providing empirical evidence
Our contribution to the improvement of policy and practise will be based on solid data and information, which includes facilitating access to existing knowledge. Research should provide us with empirical evidence for the observed trends (what is happening?). And what is the impact for different groups? We could take up the role of monitoring and reporting on a number of important trends (comparison between countries), and sharing this information with our target groups which will help them to strengthen their performance in negotiations and advocacy.

B. The strength of comparison and arriving at general lessons
Research will be empirically based (‘what is happening – what is the impact for different groups’). This will require case-studies for a proper understanding of how things work, but much emphasis is given to drawing conclusions at a more general level (what can A learn from B) and to explore the possibilities for generalizations. We will also undertake meta-analysis of existing case studies and best practices to draw lessons for policy and practice. (Learning on the basis of comparison)

C. Selection of a number of representative countries
In order to streamline our efforts, we will make a selection of a number of representative countries. We focus preferably on those countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America that are confronted with a ‘broad agenda’ (having to deal with the various dimensions of land governance). An important criterion for selecting countries is also the joint interest shown by our partner organizations (common ground), and available capacities.

D. Conflict/ post-conflict situations
Part of the activities will focus on countries with conflict/ post-conflict conditions. This is considered interesting given that these situations result in particular types of land ‘grabbing’ and is also relevant in relation to the displacement of populations and/or the return-agenda.

E. Applicability of results
In carrying out research, we’ll take the need of our partner organizations as the point of departure for the generation of applicable knowledge. Partners may be selected from these groups:

  • Local populations, strengthening their link with local government in defending their rights – and in negotiating with ‘external’ actors.
  • Farmers organizations and NGOs: concrete data/ information about rights etc. will help farmer’s organizations and other CSO involved in land and natural resource rights issues.
  • Entrepreneurs (through financial institutions, NGOs or government): regulatory frameworks, certification; guidelines / codes of conducts etc. will support them in acting in a socially responsible way.
  • Policy makers, CSO and NGOs: concrete data/ information will help them in agenda setting, engaging in policy making, implementation and monitoring around land governance.
  • Donor organizations (providing them with information – positioning in policy debates in various sectors; stimulating the debate).

F. Building on the basis of existing knowledge
The IS-academy will build on what exists (make use of existing material) and try to strengthen the links with ongoing research projects:

  • For access to existing documentation, KIT-ILS will provide library and documentation services and
  • We work to strengthen the link with other IS-academies (via WU and ASC), starting with a lecture by Paul Mathieu at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (December 16)
  • Special attention will be given to the current WB-research (20 countries). Follow up will be defined as soon as the first results are available.
  • Coordination with other ongoing research (e.g., PLAAS- southern Africa; Competing claims WUR (Mozambique in particular); IFAD, IIED.

We will link the IS-academy ‘land governance’ with a number of new research projects (parallel implementation). The following programmes will be carried out linked to the IS-academy:

  • Agriculture beyond Food (Indonesia – programme on the expansion of oil palm and jatropha and the implications for livelihoods)/ NWO (IDS) 2010-2014
  • SANPAD South Africa