Issues and Programmes

Rights, Citizenship and Supporting Civil Society

Citizens, civil society and philanthropic organisations have an essential and unique role to play in shaping the societies they live in. In Brazil, ICOS works to engage favela communities to promote citizenship and community engagement through the Urban Citizenship Labs. In the MENA region, ICOS has... > Read More

Citizens, civil society and philanthropic organisations have an essential and unique role to play in shaping the societies they live in. In Brazil, ICOS works to engage favela communities to promote citizenship and community engagement through the Urban Citizenship Labs. In the MENA region, ICOS has designed programmes to enhance the effective contribution of civil society organisations to the Tunisian political dialogue, and to support efforts to ensure that freedom of expression and freedom of the press become key tenets of Tunisian society. Also in the MENA region, ICOS is working to create a regional network to link and support existing organisations in the region on issues relating to the status of women.

Eliminating Violence Against Children

ICOS supports policies and actions that help communities to protect children from violence. Working in very different cultural contexts, ICOS develops and implements unique and tailored programmes to respond to this key challenge by gaining an understanding of... > Read More

ICOS supports policies and actions that help communities to protect children from violence. Working in very different cultural contexts, ICOS develops and implements unique and tailored programmes to respond to this key challenge by gaining an understanding of the deep-rooted causes driving the use of violence and taking into account cultural specificities. ICOS is currently working to develop community responses to violence against children in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Urban and Community Development

A positive urban environment can play a vital role in generating or maintaining social cohesion and well-functioning communities. ICOS uses its unique Policy Lab approach to ensure that social inclusion and social cohesion are key elements of urban planning and development. ICOS’s participatory Urban Labs use... > Read More

A positive urban environment can play a vital role in generating or maintaining social cohesion and well-functioning communities. ICOS uses its unique Policy Lab approach to ensure that social inclusion and social cohesion are key elements of urban planning and development. ICOS’s participatory Urban Labs use Cultural Analysis to define culturally relevant urban development plans for developing cities, drawing on the ‘tacit knowledge’ of local people. ICOS is currently running an Urban Development Lab in Ras Al Khaimah, the northernmost Emirate of the UAE.

Youth, Education and Employment

Preparing young people for the workplace and providing them with employment opportunities is a rising global challenge. ICOS uses its Cultural Analysis methodology to examine perceptions of young people with regards to their education and employment, to help governments... > Read More

Preparing young people for the workplace and providing them with employment opportunities is a rising global challenge. ICOS uses its Cultural Analysis methodology to examine perceptions of young people with regards to their education and employment, to help governments, policy-makers, business leaders, education professionals and civil society to better respond to the needs of youth. ICOS also works directly with governments to help them shape their policies to respond to their education and employment challenges. ICOS is currently undertaking a follow-up study to one undertaken in 2010 in partnership with the Emirates Foundation (UAE) on the perceptions of young unemployed Emiratis with regards to their unemployment.

Conflict and Post Conflict Study

ICOS works in conflict and post-conflict zones using Cultural Analysis research to examine the perceptions of local people with regards to their own situation or their attitudes towards the political/security landscape in their country. The unique insight provided by this work is used to gain a true understanding of the reality on the ground and to develop realistic... > Read More

ICOS works in conflict and post-conflict zones using Cultural Analysis research to examine the perceptions of local people with regards to their own situation or their attitudes towards the political/security landscape in their country. The unique insight provided by this work is used to gain a true understanding of the reality on the ground and to develop realistic and sustainable policy recommendations.

ICOS has been conducting Cultural Analysis research in Afghanistan since 2005, resulting in the publication of over 35 reports on the situation in the country. Much of the research has focused on military-aged males to determine their susceptibility to supporting or joining insurgent groups and provide a longitudinal assessment to evaluate the effects of international military operations. ICOS has also conducted field research on local perceptions of the war in Iraq, and research to assess the impact of the war on terror in fuelling support for insurgent groups in Somalia.

Cultural Heritage

A country or region’s cultural heritage represents the deep-rooted identity of the people living there. Working with expert archaeologists, ICOS works to support communities in safeguarding and preserving their cultural heritage, particularly in challenging environments such as conflict, post... > Read More

A country or region’s cultural heritage represents the deep-rooted identity of the people living there. Working with expert archaeologists, ICOS works to support communities in safeguarding and preserving their cultural heritage, particularly in challenging environments such as conflict, post conflict or low income countries where archaeological legacies can easily be overlooked.


The Way We Work

Understand the reality on the ground

ICOS works to get a deep understanding of the reality on the ground. We aim to get the ‘real picture’ and engage people in the process of understanding their own situation.


ICOS Labs are an organic participative process that operates on three concurrent levels to encourage a deeper understanding between all relevant actors of a selected field or issue...

ICOS Labs are an organic participative process that operates on three concurrent levels to:

- encourage a deeper understanding between all relevant actors of a selected field or issue;

- provide a platform for deliberation on the effectiveness of existing approaches to the chosen field of interest; and

- facilitate enhanced cooperation and deliverable results.

Consisting of phases of scientific research, data processing and dynamic group meetings, ICOS Labs catalyse knowledge and understanding, enabling a tailored and realistic action plans to be developed by ICOS Lab participants.


ICOS Cultural Analysis offers both a quantitative and a qualitative assessment of a given situation. The findings of tailored field research are examined through the lens of the local context to assess their significance in....

ICOS Cultural Analysis offers both a quantitative and a qualitative assessment of a given situation. The findings of tailored field research are examined through the lens of the local context to assess their significance in this environment. The resulting analysis enables a set of recommendations to be developed, proposing ways that the issues identified through the field research could be addressed at the local level and within the given parameters of that society.


ICOS combines state of the art GIS mapping techniques with social and political research and Cultural Analysis to gain insight into urban needs and challenges, and to provide new ways of understanding urban...

ICOS combines state of the art GIS mapping techniques with social and political research and Cultural Analysis to gain insight into urban needs and challenges, and to provide new ways of understanding urban environments.

- ICOS Smart Data combines geographical information with unique data on citizen activities, perceptions and aspirations obtained from Cultural Analysis, providing valuable information about community life and needs (public services, infrastructure, etc.). This information can be used by urban planners and city managers to improve the efficiency of cities and quality of life for their residents.

- ICOS Maps provide detailed, up-to-date, accurate maps, logging Points of Interest to 1m accuracy using local trained GIS teams, offering valuable insight into previously uncharted conflict or post conflict zones.