A united response from policy-makers and researchers: “Bridging science and policy is essential to achieve the 2030 Agenda.”
On 22nd of August, during the DevRes conference in Uppsala, SweDev and the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs organized a seminar on bridging science and policymaking in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Janet Vähämäki, Director of SweDev co-chaired the dialogue together with Måns Fellesson at the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
Prominent speakers contributed with their expertise including Thomas Elmqvist, Chair of the Sida Scientific Advisory Board, Ingrid Öborn, Chair Committee for Development Research (VR), Anders Hagfeldt, Vice-chancellor at Uppsala University, Ole Petter Ottersen, President of Karolinska Institute, and Gabriel Wikström, National coordinator for the 2030 Agenda.
The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) along with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development (FfD) both highlight the importance of science-based decision-making.
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Janet Vähämäki, Director of SweDev, introduced by referring to two studies from SweDev:
“The studies present similar findings; neither researchers, nor policy-makers know so well what is current with the other. However, there is a wish from both sides to be more connected with each other. Interestingly, 89% of the policy-makers perceive research as very important, yet 72% say that they do not have time to read and keep up with research”.Janet Vähämäki, Director of SweDev.
In the Swedish Development Policy Platform – the overall guiding document for the Swedish development cooperation – it is addressed that to reach Swedish policy ambitions and the 2030 Agenda, Sweden should build broad engagement and inclusive partnerships between actors in Sweden.
Måns Fellesson, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, supported this statement and said that: “From the policy side, we would like to emphasize the importance of research. Research and innovation are central components in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.”
The seminar discussed the challenges of the interaction between research and policy.
“One main challenge we have today is different timelines in policy and research. Researchers should ask themselves: Why is this important and what will it take to implement this research?”Ole Petter Ottersen, President of Karolinska Institute.
Måns Fellesson argued that: “A lot of scientific research performed at Swedish universities has direct bearing on the 2030 Agenda, but we also need to make use of the research. This is essential and the reason for this seminar today.”
“The Swedish Research Council is working on the impact of research. Our experience is that it’s essential to bring in policy-makers and communication experts early in research projects.Ingrid Öborn, Chair of the Committee for Development Research at the Swedish Research Council.
“Policy should also consider perspectives from national partners in low- and middle-income countries, as noted in the new Government strategy,” Indrid Öborn explained.
A multi-stakeholder platform and co-creation
The panellists agreed that one of the main problems is the lack of cooperation between policy-makers and researchers. A multi-stakeholder platform for Sweden, co-creation, long-term visions, communication and longer funding periods – could be one way forward according to the discussion.
Main needs identified by the panel moving forward
- Create a multi-stakeholder platform with researchers, policy-makers, civil society and the private sector to discuss problems and solutions. This platform should be used to invite, engage and challenge the different stakeholders on local and global aspects addressed in either research or in policy implementation.
- Funding and incentives are needed to bring in policy actors and communication experts early in the research projects, and more long-term funded research is needed.
- Researchers need to identify long-term impacts of their research and think about the feasibility of implementing research findings/ideas into practice.
- Research needs to be higher on the political agenda and spreading research results needs to be valued and encouraged at the universities.
- Policy-makers should use the research that already is available, and efforts should be made to increase “research literacy” among policy-makers.
- Engaging in policy processes as a researcher needs to be both funded and rewarded.
- Researchers and policy-makers should use “co-creation” (implementation research, embedded research etc) approaches.
- Secondments of researchers to development and decision-making bodies is needed and more researchers should be integrated/employed into governments and municipalities.
- “Slow science” is essential for understanding the complex problems the world is facing today and should also be allowed.
- Individual researcher might have a short-term vision for his/her own research, but every researcher should be part of a research community with long term goals and visions.
The seminar was attended by around 120 researchers, policy-makers and international scholars and held during DevRes2022 in Uppsala.
Written by Ylva Rylander, SweDev and SEI. Edited by Janet Vähämäki, Director of SweDev.