A lab for social change in Latin America

August 4, 2016

What happens when people from the private sector, academia, journalism and activism join forces to pitch ideas for solving a social problem? Although we cannot claim that they always find an answer, what we do know is that these encounters, called “civic laboratories”, address a collective need to change society for the better. This month, these labs will physically and virtually tour Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico to stimulate dialogue on and find new ways to effect social change.

The Chilean organization Fundación Ciudadano Inteligente developed this Civic Lab methodology, described by them as a collaboration space that seeks to integrate social and technological sectors to strengthen and facilitate creation, planning and project implementation processes that focus on political advocacy and social developments. The organization Abriendo Datos Costa Rica (Opening Data Costa Rica) is co-organizing the event in this country. The initiative is supported by Hivos in Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica.

Want to participate with your ideas? You can do it virtually, no matter where you are, following the hashtag #LabCivico (In Spanish) during the month of August and connecting with us via @ciudadanoi or @HivosAmLatina.

The topics the labs deal with vary according to each country. In Guatemala, the discussion will revolve around transparency and integrity; in Honduras, the main topic will be gender; in Costa Rica, transportation and in Puerto Rico, political advocacy in public policies. In general, labs generate new forms of collaboration and technology, and influence capacity for social change. Labs will be facilitated by Laura Encalada and Marcelo Pérez, both from Ciudadano Inteligente.

Hivos Latin America supports civic labs through the Civic Experiments Fund, a part of our Media and Accountability Latin America (MAILA) program. With this initiative, we aim to promote regional labs so they can become spaces for small-scale experimentation, where participants can develop and test prototypes that may later have the ability to scale up to full blown projects for social change. The Civic Experiments Fund is supported by the Swedish Agency for International Development (SIDA).

Photo: David Ross

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