The Drugs & (dis)order research has generated a robust evidence base on illicit drug economies and their relationship with development and war-to-peace transitions in nine borderland regions. The ambition of its policy engagement activities has been to encourage and support policies for war-to-peace transitions that address the specific challenges of countries and borderlands with illicit drug economies, as well as to showcase and share the evidence generated by the project’s research with those involved in making and implementing policy.

The idea of a ‘policy lab’ was articulated in the initial design of the project as an ongoing conversation between programme researchers and invited policy stakeholders, taking place periodically through the lifetime of the programme, devoted to policy and programme design and experimentation.

This paper outlines how we adapted, iterated and implemented the original idea in two cycles of the policy lab in February and October 2021. It also gives an overview and flavour of the conversations about drugs, development and peacebuilding policy that took place, constructed from recordings of open sessions, and notes from closed sessions. It concludes with some reflections and lessons from the process.