Inclusive Regional Development

CoLab’s Inclusive Regional Development program (IRD) works with communities, practitioners, and engaged academics to co-create knowledge, strengthen capacities for collective leadership, and support innovative models for equitable development and wellbeing in Latin America.

Countries across Latin America, like many around the world, are dealing with severe crises of socioeconomic inequality. Across the region this manifests in dire consequences for livability, including epidemics of crime and violence, social and political conflict, environmental crisis, and stigmatization of marginalized groups.

Within this context, isolated regions and small or mid-sized cities far from centers of political administration, concentrated economic wealth, and centers of authoritative knowledge production face a distinct set of challenges. These dynamics often include development policies that don’t respond to regional needs; low mobility and connectivity due to inadequate physical and technological infrastructure; environmental and socio-economic consequences of resource extractivism; and ethno-racial discrimination.

Despite these challenges, sub-national regions also represent spaces of unique potential for creating alternatives. In many of the places where our partners work, distance from political and economic centers has contributed to strong informal leadership networks, collective regional identities, and distinct conceptions and models of the economy – all of which are crucial assets to leverage in the pursuit of equitable development.

IRD’s work has involved building capacity for collective leadership, supporting values-based entrepreneurship, facilitating participatory action research processes, and strategic planning that leverages local and regional assets to address regional disparities. In addition, our partners form part of a transnational learning network focused on sharing knowledge and lessons about economic democracy, community innovation, and self-determination in their local contexts.