The interaction between government legislation and policies with the "informal" efforts and livelihoods of people existing in parallel, is crucial to the understanding of development and to the design of policy interventions to reduce poverty. Not surprisingly, this discourse has been a central part of development debates for a long time. But the central policy question – how best to unlock the potential of local assets, entrepreneurship, and institution-building – remains unresolved.
The task of collating and interpreting the vast experience of attempts to link formal with informal sectors is incomplete. What lessons can be drawn from these experiences of success as well as failure? How do they alter our conceptualizations of the formal and the informal? And, most importantly, what are the implications for policy makers addressing the challenge of development and poverty reduction? These are the broad themes of the conference. They can be addressed in the context of experiences at different times and in different regions of the world, and across a range of topics such as land titling, common property management, employment, small and medium enterprises, gender relations and women’s legal rights.