The final Think and Link seminar “Developing effective strategies & communication tools for policy advocacy” as an end of the cycle of the 2013 Think and Link – Regional Policy Programme was held in Belgrade (December 7-8) in the Hotel Park. The seminar brought together 14 European Fund for the Balkans THINK and LINK programme grantees which were participating in the 2-day training conducted by Eóin Young and Lucian Ciolan from the International Centre for Policy Advocacy (ICPA).
The workshop was aimed at building the strategic capacity of participants to design a targeted and policy-relevant advocacy campaign and supporting communication tools in order to achieve the desired policy objectives.
The 28 researchers from the countries of the region had an opportunity to closely analyze the role of the research evidence in the policy environment and decision-making processes, gain insight into the nature of the policy communities and the roles of different actors in the discussion, observe the advocacy in the specific policy environment and choose a suitable role for their organization as an advocate. According to the well constructed training programme of the senior trainers of the International Centre for Policy Advocacy (ICPA), the participants were introduced with the concepts behind the Advocacy Planning Framework (APF) and the different models of persuasive policy messages which can be used for improvement of their policy briefs, which are an important communication tools for support of their advocacy activities and ideas.
The focus of the first day was to introduce everyone with the core understanding of the effective advocacy, the position and approaches of different actors, from watchdogs to think tanks and activists, as well as an opportunity for the participants to share their previous experience on advocacy and learn about the new tools through practical examples.
The second day of the training was reserved for going further into the idea of the policy advocacy as a process of persuasive communication and the policy brief as a communication tool used in support of the well planned advocacy campaign.
During the discussion sessions, the debates and the workshop exercises, the delegates of the 14 think-tank organizations, policy-oriented NGOs, independent policy institutes and policy-relevant research groups had a chance to learn new skills and techniques of how to improve the policy impact of their research, with particular reference to generating good quality policy products.
The practical part of the workshop, which was focused on making plans to advocate for the findings and recommendations of the separate research projects of the Think and Link Programme, was filled with efficient inputs from all the participants. By working in country pairs, the different organizations exchanged experience in regard of the political and policy making culture, which was also a good basis to rethink and challenge the initial advocacy strategies.
The overview of the final results and the lessons learned during the realization of the separate projects gave useful and applicable conclusions about the conducting of policy research and advocacy in the Western Balkans, supported by the “THINK AND LINK” regional wide policy programme and the European Fund for the Balkans.