Spotlight series: IGARAPÉ

10th October 2014
This week we turn our attention to The Igarapé Institute, Brazil, for our Spotlight series. The series profiles research organisations based in developing countries.

IGARAPE FinalThe Igarapé Institute was formed in 2011 to raise the level of debate and action on issues of security and development in Brazil, across the Americas and in the South. The name, Igarapé, is a local indigenous word for "small river". The Institute sees its role as a channel linking global decision makers with local actors and a broker bringing Brazilian thinkers and international players together.

The Igarapé Institute focuses on three key themes: global drug policy, citizen security and international cooperation. These issues are regarded as of paramount importance when thinking about Brazil (and Latin Americas) most pressing challenges, and according to Robert Muggah, Research Director at the Institute, they are also inextricably linked – Brazil is the world´s second largest consumer of cocaine and one of the major transhipment countries; it also has the largest number of homicides each year, most of them perpetrated in low-income areas.

A key aim of the Institute is to reshape debate and action on drug policy – it is also the Secretariat for the Global Commission on Drug Policy – citizen security and international cooperation. It seeks to do this by encouraging governments, business and civil society groups to adopt policies and programmes that promote safety and security through preventive means.

The Institute has also emerged as a noted developer of data visualization tools and uses ICTs to track violence, arms, money laundering and other criminal activities. Applications include:

• The mapping arms data (MAD) data visualization features global data on all authorized exports and imports of small arms, light weapons and ammunition between 1992 and 2011

Mapping citizen security across more than 40 countries and territories of Latin America and the Caribbean

• The Child Security Index (CSI) maps the psychological and emotional impact of child and juvenile abuse within low-income environments in Brazil

• The Smart Policing initiative is designed to improve police accountability and improve public safety in low- and middle-income settings of Brazil, Kenya and South Africa


New technologies are an important part of their work and a stated aim is to empower its network of partners in the Americas and Africa to leverage such developments to enhance their work. The Institute has also been key in establishing several networks - including Pense Livre (Think Free), the Citizen Security Dialogues, and others - which bring together experts working on relevant issues.

The Igarapé Institute is working on a number of trends that are defining issues for the Americas and across the South. These include managing urbanization and urban violence, addressing UN Security Council Reform, the role of security, justice and governance in the post-2015 development agenda, the promotion of digital sovereignty and challenges of digital protest, and the role of new technologies in promoting safety and security.

In the immediate future their focus will be on the UN General Assembly debates in September on drug policy reform (where the Institute will support the launch of a major new report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy). Other initiatives include inputs across Latin America and to the Open Ended Working Group on the post-2015 development agenda, including the content of the future Sustainable Development Goals.

For more information on the Igarapé Institute see its Annual Report 2013.