2018, a fruitful year into the road: our grain of sand to strengthen evidence informed policy making

A new year is coming to an end. Annual reviews and reflections will emerge here and there. And we are not the exception: we appreciate having a moment to look back, and give thanks for the opportunities of work we had and the people we interacted with. We have also had some deep conversations to identify what we could have done better. For us the best way to wrap up this reflection and get inspired in the year to come is to share some thoughts it with our partners and colleagues around the world.

So, what have we done this year?

Together with our partner INASP, we piloted a framework to help public agencies improve the use of evidence in policy decisions

In 2016, INASP and Politics & Ideas (P&I) produced the Context Matters Framework to identify the main factors affecting evidence use, and provide a way to systematically identify how they manifest in any given agency. Between the end of 2017 and the first half of 2018 we embarked on a journey to pilot the framework as a participatory diagnostic process in specific government agencies. We wanted to see how the tool would work in practice to identify and address the issues facing an agency – and learn how our approach could be improved. To this end, we worked with the Secretariat of Public Administration and CIES in Peru, and with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Ghana.

We have learned a lot from these experiences. We have incorporated these lessons into an updated version of the Framework website and in our communication resources. We have also shared what we learned in the following resources, articles and events:

  • We organized a webinar to share the lessons of the pilots with policy makers and practitioners in Latin America and discuss how we can do better in the next iterations of joint work.

Together with INASP and PACKS-Africa, we helped African mid-career policy makers and researchers strengthen their understanding of the main factors affecting the use of evidence in public agencies

We participated in the Evidence Informed Policy Making Seminar: Water-Energy-Food-Health, co-organized by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, The African Academy of Sciences, UK Research and Innovation, the International Network for Government Science Advice and the South African Department of Science and Technology in Pretoria in December. We co-facilitated sessions in which more than 60 policy makers and researchers learned about the Context Matters Framework, we explored opportunities for improved evidence use, organisational and collaboration, and we co-developed ideas to improve evidence informed policy making in public institutions.

We kept strengthening our capacity to assess the policy influence of think tanks and policy research through the evaluation of international and multi-stakeholder programmes 

We helped the Latin American think tank Rimisp understand the influence of their IDRC-funded three-year Transforming Territories Program, aimed at supporting policies and programs that create greater opportunities and improve the well-being for approximately 900,000 women and men in rural-urban territories of Chile, Colombia and Mexico. We evaluated the results achieved by the Program between 2016-2019, analyzing the scope and relevance of the impact of the program on the public policies of the countries in which it has a presence and provided recommendations to improve related efforts in the future.

We embarked on a joint effort to better understand the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in knowledge systems and how the latter can be better prepared to face its challenges

P&I is working in the design of a large research project with Capability, Demos Helsinki, Southern Voice, Unesco and Using evidence. The intent of the research is to generate global, regional, and national level dialogues on how government in middle and low-income countries are preparing to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the 4IR as well as face its substantial challenges that could affect the achievement of SDGs. The research will involve looking at how knowledge systems are evolving in countries and/or specific sectors to prepare for the new forms of governance and policy making of the XXI century.

As part of this initiative, we are finalizing a Discussion paper (to be available in January 2019) whose aim is to formulate and share some research questions which we believe are important to investigate further, and stimulate a rich and diverse discussion among those interested in the implications of the 4IR on policy making and knowledge systems.

Moreover, we discussed the implications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution at the Think Tank Initiative Exchange in Bangkok in November, in a panel with Southern Voice, GDN, GRADE (Peru), STIPRO (Tanzania) and CEPA (Sri Lanka). A full room of eager colleagues provided us with valuable insights to refine our approach.

We continued co-creating our approach to strengthen leadership in collaboration with amazing think tank leaders

We are very enthusiastic about our emerging work in promoting a new leadership paradigm: we have offered a series of workshops and conferences for policymakers and business leaders in Argentina.

We are currently co-creating with collaborators from Ukraine and Moldova a new global program to help young leaders transform themselves and their organisations so that we can together enable spaces for the emergence of new ideas and solutions that unite heart and mind, the internal with the external, and feminine and masculine qualities.

We encouraged Argentinean policy makers to try innovative approaches to plan and manage their work

 The Ministry of Modernization in Argentina invited P&I to participate in the “Talks to inspire” Cycle. A group of 18 policy makers from different agencies and sectors learned about the adaptive planning approach and how they can incorporate them in their practices and processes to achieve better outcomes and strengthen programme management.

Following our tradition, we would like to the end this blog post thanking you all for your support and interest in our work: we are not alone and don´t want to work isolated: we enjoy partnerships and teamwork. We expect 2019 to bring us more collaborations and joint initiatives with others that share our principles, challenges and interests.

P&I wishes you all a wonderful and fruitful 2019!

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