The Centre for Sustainable Peace and Democratic Development (SeeD) works with international development organisations, governments and civil society leaders to design and implement evidenced-based strategies for sustaining peace. Our work contributes to the global debate on peace and development and our results help partners to promote the Sustainable Development Goals for building peaceful societies, empowering women and youth and improving citizens’ connectedness in urban spaces. We use participatory research techniques and advanced analytical instruments to bridge the peacebuilding evidence gap, as we investigate and predict optimal pathways for sustaining peace. We work in five thematic areas: social cohesion and reconciliation, youth inclusion, gender empowerment, governance and anti-corruption and urban cohesion. Working in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia, we provide evidence-based policy recommendations that are rooted in citizen engagement strategies and an empirical understanding of the behaviours of individuals, groups and communities. This allows us to support partners’ efforts to develop inclusive peacebuilding and conflict prevention approaches which guide decision-making processes at all levels.

We believe that a weak evidence-base is the cause of many failed peacebuilding programmes and policies, and undermines coherent and precise responses to conflict. The consequences of this failure are felt by millions of people worldwide as direct deaths in war, terrorist incidents and numbers of displaced populations have all surged since the beginning of the century. It is widely acknowledged that the best way to prevent violent conflict is to ensure that societies are resilient through investment in inclusive and sustainable development. However, the current system of peacebuilding has often failed to holistically investigate and address the inequalities, exclusion and intergroup tensions which fuel socio-political tensions that can turn into violent conflict.

The peacebuilding evidence gap undermines international community efforts to make progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, while donors are increasingly requesting peacebuilding policies and programmes that are truly evidence-based. The demand for evidence-based programming cannot be met unless the challenge of accessing reliable data is resolved. Compared to the resources dedicated to conflict, the financial and human resources available to invest in peacebuilding are limited. Similarly, the proportion of peacebuilding funds directed to enhancing statistical capacities falls far below what is required. Our approach addresses the need to better understand how the limited resources dedicated to peacebuilding can be potentially translated into high-impact results. The use of this evidence can be used by donors to guide funding decisions for development programmes.

Our methodology in a nutshell

Our evidence-based peacebuilding methodology combines an extensive participatory research process with advanced data analysis to identify the drivers of conflict dynamics and peaceful social change. It draws inspiration from multiple scientific disciplines such as sociology, psychology, international relations and security studies and is flexible enough to incorporate new research findings, global policy guidelines and the realities of each local and regional context. Instead of providing a precise prescription, our methodology is underpinned by a Process Framework, which ensures local ownership of project results and helps us align research objectives with the specific policy outcomes of different partners.

Our versatile and robust Process Framework includes a diligent calibration phase where we customize and contextualise research design and our assessment metrics (e.g. indicators and scales). The collection, analysis and interpretation of data using advanced statistical analysis tools and participatory research methods allow us to provide evidence-based policy recommendations to partners that can predict entry points with the most likelihood of impact towards achieve peacebuilding and social cohesion objectives.

The methodology is used to recommend peacebuilding solutions to governments and partners, and can be calibrated for each of the below areas of investigation: