James Holmes Institute for local government innovation at ICO

The Institute for Local Government Innovation is a new ICO Institute focusing on research, publication and promotion of local policies and initiatives that have impacted lives across worldwide communities. The Institute seeks to act as a disseminator of information and a research centre on the impact of local government policies. We currently conduct independent research and analysis, engage with key stakeholders and establish strategic partnerships to progress the Institute’s core mission.

James Holmes as the ICO Secretary General and Merton are the motivators behind founding the institution. James Holmes has a lot of previous experience in the field of International cooperation and facilitating conflict prevention strategy. The London Borough of Merton has successfully created a strategy to create community innovation at a local level. Their most recent ‘Local Development Scheme 2019-2022’[1] sets out a long-term plan focused partly on effective waste maintenance. Each local plan looks at a specific area of regeneration this one focuses on waste management. At this institute, Merton’s social and financial sustainability work and local government innovation discussions will be shared, debated and evolved. Merton’s active involvement in the development of our research centre means they will have an office at the Vienna Research Centre. Previous Merton Local Government Initiatives have set the precedent for the successful impacts of local government involvement.

The objective of the institute is to research and share good practice at local level, measure performance, highlight case studies, organise conferences and networking. It is important for us to expand our research and practice in order to meet a global platform and broaden our international organisational prospects. Local government has been a proven successful strategy for changing local policy and meeting global communities needs through providing communities with the tools, means and knowledge to establish a better quality of life. In a combination of traditional community knowledge and new innovative tools and resources communities become self- reliant, which thus creates sustainable practice and development.


Tackling wide scale reconciliation and other issues such as economic poverty and the access of the right to self-determination is a major part of the ICO’s mission but requires modified research and analysis, which has undergone a strategy of trial and error. Therefore local government provides a great laboratory for new ideas it enables the fixation on specific community problems whilst also possibly providing the framework for larger scale policy change. The establishment of the Institute for Local Government has the provisional aims of elevating the lives of citizens around the globe but also presents the possibility of being an initiator for community cohesion and reconciliation.

The Institute for Local Government Innovation is currently comprised of a compact office and is starting out on a smaller scale, whilst utilising the office by conducting other meetings within this space, we are open to expansion as the Institute develops and becomes more renounced. The team working on the project is roughly 10 people from a variety of professional expertise however again we predict this will grow as the project goals become wider and as we develop important partnerships. The University of Massachusetts Boston and their Policy Centres and Institutes, is an example of a partnership we are excited to develop alongside our Institute for Local Government Innovation. It is important to us the Local Government Innovation project has a large international focus so that we are able to incorporate a wide variety of local governments and their strategies for community cohesion. The Mauricio Gaston Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy from the University of Massachusetts Boston makes for a great example of tailored research for specific communities in order to understand their relationship with other communities and thus building sustainable tailored ways to create community cohesion.

The ICO digital library will dedicate a section to books, journals and academic literature on local government around the world. This will be a relevant and useful resource of information, the aims of the ICO library project focus’s itself as a resource based platform enabling the exploration of varying literature in order to gain a better understanding and perspective of conflicts within regions. Current institute activity of the ICO Research Centre has looked at disseminating factual information and providing research on strategizing ways to improve countries government by tackling problems at local level. Online library research provides a plethora of individuals to understand the work local government strategy can have in conflict resolution. Furthermore there are examples of previous local government having a digital library; it is an excellent way to highlight progression of local government innovation. Merton has a categorised online collection of their plans and strategies and it is a great way to create a visual representation of the work they are doing and the diversity of their plans.

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