Key Institutions Meeting 1999 Dunedin, New Zealand
The meeting was hosted by the Children’s Issues Centre at the University of Otago, on the invitation by its Director Anne B. Smith. Children’s Issues Centre gave invaluable assistance to the logistics of the meeting and had arranged for social events that allowed Childwatch members to meet local researchers and others involved in children’s issues. The meeting was combined with the first meeting of the 1999-2001 Advisory Board. Representatives from 18 Key Institutions participated (see below participants list). The Childwatch meetings were held in connection with the international conference: ‘Child and Family Policy Conference: Children’s Rights. National and International Perspectives’ organised by Children’s Issues Centre. Most of the Childwatch representatives participated in the conference, some of them as speakers. In addition to the professional importance of such a combination of meetings, it also allowed for combining travel budgets and sharing of costs between Childwatch and the Children’s Issues Centre.
With reference to a written report from the Secretariat and the 1998 Annual Report, Per Miljeteig focussed on the following issues:
The Advisory Board decided, in its last meeting, to clarify the criteria for membership in the network, with stronger focus on the research component, commitment to international collaboration and ability/willingness to serve as national or regional networking agent of the individual Key Institution. On this basis, the Secretariat conducted an enquête with the Key Institutions with a view to evaluating their participation in the network. As a result, 5 institutions were placed temporarily on the list of affiliated members. At the time of the Dunedin meeting, there are 25 Key Institutions. The Advisory Board and the Secretariat are constantly reviewing the issue of potential or emerging new Key Institutions, particularly in parts of the world where the network is not well represented.
During the last year, representatives from the Secretariat have visited or worked directly with 12 Key Institutions. Such contacts are very important because it gives the Secretariat invaluable knowledge about the institutions and their staff. With this background it becomes easier to involve in a dialogue about how to serve the needs of the Key Institutions. The Secretariat would like input from the Advisory Board and the Key Institutions about how to make more systematic use of such contacts. Visits from the Secretariat might also be co-ordinated with the new partnership programme to support its implementation.
Marie Louise Bistrup’s contract ends 31 July 1999, and will not be extended because she has moved back to Denmark with her family. Project assistant Jan Olav Baarøy will leave when his contract ends at the end of October. Recruitment to the posts will be done by the Secretariat in consultation with the Advisory Board, and after general discussion of use of secretariat’s resources at this Key Institutions meeting.
CWI continues to receive its core funding from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For 1999, the grant the equals USD 213 000 with the current exchange rate (NOK 1 600 000). This is the same amount as the two previous years. With increased salaries and permanent costs, this means that funds available for seed-money etc. are decreasing. The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is probably not likely to increase its grants to CWI due to general budget situation in Norway. The Secretariat expects to be invited to a meeting in the Ministry later this year on the issue of future support to CWI. Search for additional funding might be considered in order to allow for activities in the network to be initiated at the same rate as before.
The Secretariat spends a substantial portion of its resources on trying to help the optimal flow of communication within the network, particularly through facilitating m-lists or other collective electronic mailing arrangements and through developing the CWI internet homepage to include as much relevant information from the Key Institutions as possible. This is another area where the Secretariat wants an ongoing dialogue and feed back from the Advisory Board and Key Institutions.
Dawn Walker oriented about the establishment and recent developments of INCHES. As a follow up to the ‘Physical environment and children’s health’ section of the ‘Urban Childhood conference’ the Secretariat has been working with several institutions, including several CWI Key Institutions, the Dutch Association of Environmental Medicine, WHO and the European Environmental Agency to establish an international network for research on environmental hazards to children’s health. INCHES was launched in August 1998 at the International Conference at children’s Health and Environment in Amsterdam. It has later held meetings of the co-ordination committee in Rome, March 1999 and in London June 1999. Regional sub-networks are established or in the process of being established in Europe and the Americas.
CWI has been commended for its commitment and the resources it has used in establishing INCHES. Dawn Walker made the case that there is now a turning point where it is important for CWI to decide whether it gives closure to its engagement or take a continued high profile. The latter would include hosting the secretariat for INCHES. The Advisory Board recommends that the active role of the Secretariat is downplayed. Continued CWI engagement will be represented by Key Institutions that are engaged in these issues, such as CICH. The Secretariat will inform the co-ordination committee.
Irene Rizzini and Gary Melton reported on the progress of this project: The two workshops in Cape Town, October 1998 and Kiawah, December 1998 resulted in a substantive body of papers and presentations of case studies. This is material is now being edited by Gary Melton and Lee Jane Kaufman for publication in a book, and in a special section of the journal American Psychologist. This material is also considered for use as basis for workshops with staff in international organisations. Francisco Pilotti is working on this issue. The next step is to formulate a proposal for a research project on children’s experience of change in institutions of everyday life, sense of safety and opportunities. Several Key Institutions have been involved in the process so far, and others want to be included in the further development. The co-ordinating working group communicates with Key Institutions on this, as appropriate.
Ferran Casas has been working very closely with Child Research Net (CRN) in Tokyo after his visit there in November 1998 to develop a framework for international collaboration on a study of the interaction between children and media. He and Miya Omori from CRN gave an update on the preparations so far. The project is planned to focus on media as a tool for learning and communication between children. It will use a combination of three different methodological approaches: interviews, questionnaires and pictures of children using new media. Per Egil Mjaavatn, Usha Nayar, Irene Rizzini and Nittaya Kotchabhakdi have joined the project group in discussions about including their institutions in the project. With this, case studies in Brazil, Thailand, Japan, Spain, India and Norway are envisaged. CRN and the Catalan Network for Child Research will co-ordinate the project.
A project outline has been developed with Lee Jane Kaufman and Francisco Pilotti as the co-ordinators. It suggests a series of small workshop to develop the project further and to collect the relevant information from a selection of international organisation. The main objective of this project is to get an understanding of the process and types of child research in international organisations such as UNICEF, the World Bank, and OAS. Dawn Walker mentioned how CICH assisted with information about industrialised countries for the UNICEF publication Progress of Nations. This gave some experience that might be useful for this project. Judith Ennew offered to share experience from the Monitoring Children’s Rights project that to a great extent demonstrated how international organisations do not use child research, even research they have commissioned. The project group will develop the plans further and seek to include other Key Institutions in the plans.
The purpose of this project was to produce a programme consisting of presentation of case studies for the 1999 Key Institutions meeting. Ferran Casas, Irene Rizzini, Usha Nayar and Rose September prepared case studies with Jack Habib as the co-ordinator. (See further details below.)
A group consisting of representatives from Canadian Institute of Child Health, Programme on International Rights of the Child, URECRC and the Secretariat developed a project outline that was presented to the Key Institutions meeting. The departure point for the proposed study is that fact that issues relating to environment and the importance of environmental factors on children’s health is almost invisible in reporting to the Committee on the Rights of the Child. The thesis is that this refers to a lack of understanding and a lack of consciousness about environmental issues in the child rights perspective. The project proposes ways to address these issues through a series of case studies. The group wants indications about interest from other Key Institutions and aims to take the process further in collaboration with the Secretariat.
The Growing up in Cities project has pioneered the use of child-participatory methods to collect data on children’s living conditions and urban planning It has also gained experience from trying to channel children’s view to those responsible for planning and resource allocation in the cities where they live. Now that the project is finished and the reports about to be concluded, the research teams are suggesting themes for further research. One such theme is the need to develop research on the mechanisms and effects of children’s participation. The project included children in the research process to a great extent, and paid great importance to conveying their views as part of the dissemination of recommendations from the project. There is now a need to analyse these processes more systematically and to define what new questions could be derived. It was noted that there is a need to develop a proper scientific language discourse for this area, which is already highly politicised. This poses the challenge of also bringing people from outside of the ‘children’s field’ such as for instance political scientists. Louise Chawla, the project co-ordinator of GUIC has received a small grant from UNESCO to develop a research strategy and wants the involvement of CWI. Per Egil Mjaavatn and Gary Melton will follow up with Louise Chawla.
Per Egil Mjaavatn presented some thoughts that he has developed with Gary Melton and the Secretariat about the further development of CWI and the use of the secretariat’s human resources. It is suggested that a project officer is recruited in the now vacant post with a mandate to work specifically with the Key Institutions and help develop their research strategies.
The proposal also included a proposed workplan for the identification of new Key Institutions:
by 2000 find members/potential members in Central and Eastern Europe and more members from Australia, Latin America and the Middle East/North Africa
by 2001 find members/potential members from Indonesia, the Philippines and the Baltic region
by 2002 find members /potential members from the former Soviet Union (Belarussia, Georgia, Ukraine)
The aim should be to have 10 new members by the next Key Institutions meeting in 2002.
Proposed schedule for future CWI meetings:
2000 Advisory Board meeting (Europe)
2001 Advisory Board meeting (Latin America)
2002 Combined Advisory Board meeting and Key Institutions meeting (Asia)
2003 Advisory Board meeting
2004 Advisory Board meeting
2005 Combined Advisory Board meeting and Key Institutions meeting
CWI should continue its tradition of seeking to hold Advisory Board meetings and Key Institutions meetings in collaboration with Key Institutions. Furthermore, it should also seek to cosponsor local events with child researchers and others in conjunction with its own regular meetings. This has been very useful when it has been done on previous occasions, such as San José 1994, Dakar 1995, Trondheim 1997 and Cape Town 1998.
Establishing a strategy for capacity building through bringing Key Institutions into closer institutional collaboration was one of the main themes of the 1998 Advisory Board meeting. Gary Melton and the working group on the partnership programme presented the preliminary thoughts about this emerging strategy.
The meeting divided into three working groups to elaborate on three specific themes:
• Research themes
• Functions of the secretariat
The following contains a brief summary of outcomes and recommendations of the three workshops:
The idea of developing a strategy for institutional collaboration between small groups of Key Institutions was first launched in the 1998 Advisory Board meeting. A framework for such a strategy could include the following main outlines.
- collaborative research
- organisational development
- develop strong Key Institutions
- develop regional/national networks for child research
- develop ability to conduct research that will improve the situation of children
- to be shared among Host Key Institution, Home Key Institution, CWI Secretariat
The small working group elaborated details to be included in the strategy. Ferran Casas, Irene Rizzini and Rose September will serve as steering committee for the partnership project and will develop a proposed strategy and selection criteria based on discussions in Dunedin.
The working group on themes discussed a variety of potential issues for research within the network. They can be summarised to include:
- impact of media
- children and violence
- children’s everyday lives
- indicators of child well-being beyond survival
- children’s perceptions of poverty
- children’s participation
- how different types of governance impacts the lives of children
Some of these issues have already been touched in ongoing or planned CWI projects. It was suggested that the process continue with a view to identifying themes that call for collective and global conceptualisation and addressed jointly in international collaboration.
The working group that addressed the functions of the secretariat focussed on the following main key issues:
• the need to replenish and strengthen the secretariat, i.a. through seeking to increase the core funding
• the need to develop the optimal combination of specialised skills, such as:
- knowledge of international organisations
- knowledge of implementing research
- knowledge of running a Key Institution
• the need to further develop and strengthen the CWI internet home page, as a major tool for communication and information flow
The Secretariat, in collaboration with the Advisory Board and the Business Board will take steps to implement recommendations from the working group. The issue of seeking to increase the core budget will be taken up with the new Business Board or delegated to a special task force.
The intention behind this special seminar was to provide an ‘exploratory ground’ for experience gained by Key Institutions in terms of seeking impact through research. Three case studies were selected from among suggestions from Key Institutions. (See annex II for full programme.) The key questions that were asked in the preparations and that the case studies were intended to explore are:
- what do we mean by impact?
- what is an impact?
- what are factors that affect and determine impact?
In the discussion after the presentations it was highlighted that very often NGO generated research has been forwarded to peer review that controls the quality of the research. Efforts such as this one is a welcome effort to start exploring the advantages and pitfalls of research that are aimed at benefiting children in a collegial way. The group behind the case studies will decide how to go about in publishing the papers prepared for this special seminar.