The Center for Local Governance and Research is a Research and Consulting firm. It was established in 2019 by a group of former parliamentarians following years of experience making and reviewing public policies, legislating and providing oversight on Bhutan in the Parliament of Bhutan. Leveraging the experiences of its team members, it endeavours to make a difference, combining business acumen and social development aspirations through research and capacity development. It continues to engage and contribute to projects that strengthen local governance and empower citizens in influencing public policies.

The center is driven by the shared passion for decentralization and inclusion as Bhutan continues on its journey of social, economic and political transformation and development. We aspire to participate and contribute to the deepening process of democratic practices in the country through the creation and sharing of knowledge.

Decentralization and Local Empowerment:

CLG champions decentralization, believing that strong local governments are essential for Bhutan’s democracy to sustain. They actively support local government bodies through workshops, training, and research. Examples include:

  • Mapped gaps and developed a Protocol for Local Government session proceedings.
  • Conducted a study to strengthen Local Government Standing Committees.
  • Delivered multiple capacity-building activities as a partner institute of the Department of Local Governance from 2019- 2023.

Inclusive Policy-Making:

The Center prioritizes inclusive policy-making, ensuring the voices of women and youth are heard. Through the Bhutan Biodemocracy and Resilience project, a collaboration with the Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster (UK), five activities were organized with the broader theme of policy dialogue and knowledge sharing, however, a few were specifically focused on women’s participation in local government and encourage youth engagement through essay competitions on developmental challenges. For instance:

  • Conducted a workshop titled “Gender and Development: Women’s Participation in Local Government.”
  • Organized and awarded prizes for an essay competition for undergraduate students on “Developmental Challenges in Bhutan.”

Citizen and Civil Society Engagement:

CLG recognizes the importance of informed and active citizens. In addition to the Bhutan Biodemocracy and Resilience Conferences, two rounds of high-level workshops on public hearings have been delivered to two successive parliaments, to encourage citizen participation in the legislative process. Additionally, they collaborate with civil society organizations, like the Wangling Vegetable Growers Group. Here are some specific examples:

  • Partnered with Wangling Vegetable Growers Group on a capacity-building project.
  • Participated in the General Assembly of the Local Governance and Initiative Network (LOGIN) Association.
  • The Bhutan Biodemocracy and Resilience Conference also encouraged non-mainstream voices from the academia, commentators, writers, thinkers and the CSOs for amplification. It touched on conservation, emerging technology for development, resilient infrastructure, circular economy, contemporary education, public health emergencies, volunteerism, etc.
  • Developed Parliament-CSO Engagement Guidelines.

Knowledge Networking and Production/ Awards:

CLG actively participates in knowledge exchange. We secured research grants and participated in conferences like the South Asian Cities Summit, and LOGIN assembly. This allows them to share Bhutan’s experiences and learn from others, fostering best practices in local governance. Some highlights include:

  • Arts and Humanities Research Council – Global Challenges Research Fund International Development Research Networking Scheme Large Grant, Project on ‘Narratives for a Sustainable Biodemocracy: Bhutan and Beyond’, Two Year Project, 2020-2022 (extended because of the coronavirus situation)
  • British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant for a project on Narratives of Change in Northern Bhutan 2019-2020 Round (in collaboration with CSD, University of Westminster, UK)
  • Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Award, University of Westminster, 2019-2021 (in collaboration with CSD, University of Westminster, UK)
  • Participated at the 6th South Asian Cities Summit 2023, New Delhi

Building an informed and inclusive Society:

By focusing on decentralization, empowered local governments, and inclusive policy-making, CLG hopes to play a constructive role in strengthening Bhutan’s democracy. Our efforts and aspirations towards knowledge production and knowledge sharing position us as a valuable resource for local governance not just in Bhutan, but across the region.