Tag: development policy

DN Debatt: Four solutions to increase research in Swedish development policy

Cooperation for sustainable development

There is almost consensus on the importance of science and research to solve global challenges, such as the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Despite this, there are major shortcomings in the collaboration between decision-makers and researchers, write the Vice-Chancellor of Uppsala University and the President of Karolinska Institutet together with the Chair, Co-Chair and Director of the Swedish Development Research Network (SweDev), in an op-ed published by Dagens Nyheter.

Today, the world is facing several crises and the work with sustainable development has never been more relevant. During the Covid-19 pandemic, we saw increases in both inequality and poverty in the world. The effects of global warming are visible globally, for example, through prolonged drought and heavy monsoon rains. Science and research are crucial to solving these challenges.

Research is needed to be able to understand complex processes, the expressions and solutions to poverty, but also to achieve results in Sweden’s development policy. Studies conducted by SweDev show that despite that both decision-makers and researchers say that integrating research-based knowledge is important, interaction between them is poor. Decision-makers say that they do not have time to read and use research and researchers say that they do not have knowledge on what is current in policy-making.

“Changes are needed to increase the use of research in Sweden’s development policy”

Four concrete proposals for measures on how to increase collaboration between researchers and decision-makers in development policymaking are presented in the op-ed written by Anders Hagfeldt, Vice-Chancellor of Uppsala University; Ole Petter Ottersen, President of Karolinska Institutet; Jesper Sundewall, Vice Chair of SweDev and Docent in global health systems at Lund University and the University of KwaZulu-Natal; Fredrik Söderbaum, Chair of SweDev and Professor in peace and development research at Gothenburg University and Janet Vähämäki, Director of SweDev at Stockholm Environment Institute.

Government and government agencies must:

  1. Give research-based knowledge greater weight in decision-making. It is a failure that decision-makers state that they do not have time to use research in their work. That development policy must be based on research and evidence should be given. The new government needs to emphasize the importance of research-based policymaking in both policy documents and appropriation letters to the Swedish Development Cooperation Agency Sida, and other relevant government agencies. The Government Office and government agencies should prioritize research-based decision-making in their work. The authorities need to develop processes for the integration of research-based knowledge in decision-making and give employees time and resources for this. Special programmes are needed to connect researchers and research to the implementation of aid projects and for researchers to be able to serve in international organizations.
  2. Stop the dismantling of the Swedish academic resource base. The Swedish Development Cooperation Agency, Sida, has recently announced the discontinuation of programs for competence development within the academy such as Minor Field Studies, the Linnaeus-Palme program and the global school. Programmes for knowledge development and partnerships with Swedish researchers (for example through SweDev) have also been denied funding. The decisions go against the needs for increased competence in sustainable development. Without broad Swedish expertise on development issues, the quality of development cooperation will be undermined. The government must therefore stop the dismantling of the Swedish resource base and instead make it clear that continued investment in Swedish research competence with relevance to the 2030 Agenda is needed.
  3. Institutionalize long-term collaboration platforms for development and sustainability issues. Knowledge-sharing, co-creation of knowledge and exploring new research areas are fundamental to increasing innovation in development issues and for the 2030 Agenda. Programmes such as the Swedish Institute for Global Health Transformation (SIGHT) and SweDev have both contributed to building broad systematic platforms where decision makers can collaborate with researchers, including actors in business and civil society. The government needs to ensure that these types of arenas are given the conditions to be institutionalized and developed.
  4. Researchers and the research community must place greater emphasis on how research findings can be used in decision-making. Researchers’ collaboration with society is one of the main tasks of academia but needs to be given higher priority. Researchers need to be given opportunities to increase their knowledge of decision-making conditions and how research findings can be used by decision-makers.

Sweden has a strong tradition of conducting research and building knowledge relevant to development and sustainability issues. Therefore, Sweden should also take responsibility for the research findings being used to solve challenges such as the global sustainability goals.

A great responsibility lies on the researchers. At the same time, politics must create opportunities for better collaboration between decision-makers and researchers. This requires strategic investments to integrate research into decision-making, and to maintain and renew the Swedish resource base.

DN Debatt Repliker: “Both academia and politics bear the responsibility for better collaboration”

In a letter to the editor, the authors of the op-ed in Dagens Nyheter, states that a combination and a deeper joint development of knowledge is needed for improved collaboration, where both parties have a responsibility. They write that “collaboration is something long-term and means strengthening relationships between people with knowledge from different directions.”

“Decision makers need to be clear about the issues they are grappling with. They also need to use the available research as a map to navigate to achieve their goals.”

Transcript written by Ylva Rylander, Communications Officer for SweDev at Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). Edited by Janet Vähämäki, Director of SweDev and Team Lead for Development and Aid Policy at SEI.

Research Associate for bioeconomy at SEI

book, man, leather bag

Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) Latin America is recruiting for a Research Associate to support the centre’s work related to the bioeconomy in pursuit of a more sustainable future for human communities and natural ecosystems, contributing to the management and implementation of research, policy engagement and capacity development activities.

Deadline

21 September 2022.

Employment

Fixed-term employment, full time, in Bogotá, Colombia.

Main responsibilities

  • Conduct market studies and analysis for bioproducts and services derived from agricultural commodities and/or natural biodiversity and propose competitive strategies to improve economic, social and environmental performance.
  • Generate sustainable business plans for bioproducts or bioresources within the bioeconomy.
  • Conduct value chain and value web analysis to identify opportunities for improved sustainability and competitiveness related to bioproducts or bioresources within the bioeconomy. Provide recommendations to businesses, trade associations and allied institutions to realize these opportunities.
  • Evaluate impacts and performance on income and employment generation for bioeconomy plans, programs, projects and businesses.
  • Prepare written material to disseminate project results, including reports, scientific publications, guides, manuals and presentations.
  • Supervise the work of technical staff and external consultants related to project activities.
  • Support fundraising and the development of new proposals relevant to the bioeconomy line of research.
  • Promote collaboration with other research lines within SEI Latin America through joint work and proposal development.

About SEI

Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) is an independent international research institute founded in 1989. Its mission is to support decision-making and induce change towards sustainable development around the world by providing integrative knowledge that bridges science and policy in the field of environment and development. SEI ranked second among the most influential environment think tanks in the world in the 2020 Global Go To Think Tank Report compiled by the University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program.

SEI has around 300 employees working at research centres in seven countries around the world. SEI’s headquarters are located in Stockholm, Sweden, with other centres in Estonia (SEI Tallinn), Kenya (SEI Africa), Thailand (SEI Asia), the UK (SEI Oxford and SEI York) and the US (SEI US).

We need vaccine equity… not your leftovers.

Covid-19 vaccine.

In January 2021, Dr. Tedros, WHO Director-General, warned that the unequal distribution of Covid-19 vaccines was about to be a “catastrophic moral failure”. At that time, rich countries had already guaranteed the purchase of more doses of vaccines than the number of inhabitants on Earth, effectively leaving other countries without access. In December 2021, reflecting the already predictable greedy gluttony, poor countries refused to receive nearly 100 million doses of donated vaccines because they were about to expire. These stories remind me of the legend of the ancient Roman aristocrats who vomited between courses to make the most of all the extravagance of endless banquets. And both the Romans and the current practice of rich countries illustrate a fragile morality.

Urgent vaccine development

The rapid escalation of Covid-19 in the first quarter of 2020 marked the beginning of a rush to vaccine development. Never in such a short time, has so many public funds been allocated to fund the research and development of a new vaccine. Due to the immense contribution of public investment, the possibility of having a vaccine free of intellectual property rights was idealized. A real hope that would allow for technology transfer, leading to large-scale production at a global level. However, one and a half years after the first vaccine was licensed, the world is still witnessing inequality and inequity in access, reflected in the discrepancy in vaccination coverage. While the average of fully vaccinated individuals in high-income countries is 57%, this rate is below 5% in low-income countries.

The COVAX Facility was put in place to pool vaccine purchases globally for low- and middle-income countries, negotiating fair and competitive prices to allow all countries to access the vaccines. However, in practice, rich countries took the lead, entering contracts directly with pharmaceuticals, leaving negotiations with COVAX in the background. It is precisely this negotiating power that patents bring to pharmaceutical companies. They decide how, to whom, and when to sell. The report “A Dose of Reality” exposes that western Pharmaceuticals have delivered only 12 percent of the doses they allocated to COVAX. The same report points out that of the 1.8 billion Covid-vaccine donations promised by wealthy nations, only 261 million doses – 14 percent – ​​have been delivered to date. As a result, low-income countries are forced to participate in negotiating directly with pharmaceuticals, but in unfair competition, they end up paying up to 3 times the amount paid by rich countries.

Time to break the patent of vaccines?

So, is this the time to break the patent on Covid-19 vaccines? In 2021, more than 100 countries – led by India and South Africa – appealed to the World Trade Organization for patents to be provisionally waived by pharmaceutical corporations so that more countries could produce and sell Covid-19 vaccines and thereby increase access for low-income countries. Their call was left unanswered. On the other side, rich countries and pharmaceutical companies keep intoning the mantra that intellectual property right is fundamental to cover their expenses and enable and incentive research and development of new technologies. The companies made this argument, despite the fact that Covid-19 vaccines were funded largely by public investments. No other example represents this contradiction more than AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which had 97% public funding and was initially designed as a non-profit undertaking.

It may sound extreme, but many countries have loopholes in their constitutions that authorize their government to break patents. In Brazil, for example, if the patent holder practices financial abuse, and in the United States, in national insecurity through compulsory licensing, the government can temporarily withdraw patents of essential products. One of the most remarkable examples of breaking a patent was when in 1998, South Africa broke the patent of 39 HIV drugs at once after concluding that prices were far too high to implement a universal treatment model. That year, pharmaceutical corporations mobilized actions against South Africa, demanding sanctions at the WTO. However, the comprehensive media coverage and corporate bad will led companies to drop the lawsuit and begin negotiations with the South African Government to address price reduction.

“We have failed as a society”

The difference now is that middle-income countries with the potential to be leading producers of patent-free vaccines, such as Brazil, South Africa, and India, already have contracts guaranteeing the necessary access for their vaccine coverage following the WHO targets. Thus, the fight for breaking patents is not an agenda of their interest, leaving the world’s poorer countries without essential allies. Perhaps the issue is a moral one. Instead of fighting to break patents, patents should never have existed, at least during a global pandemic, which so far has led to the death of 6 million people. When it comes to covid-19 vaccines we have failed as a society. We are experiencing a catastrophic moral failure.


Written by a Master student at Lund University. Edited by Jesper SundewallAssociate Professor of health economics at HEARD at University of KwaZulu-Natal and of Global Health Systems at the Social Medicine and Global Health division at Lund University.

Bridging science and policy is essential to achieve the 2030 Agenda

Ole Petter Ottersen.

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.

Watch the recording

Seminar recorded by Johan Söderlund in Uppsala University Hall, 22 August 2022.

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.

Gambling on Development

Nairobi National park, Africa.

SweDev and SEI invited Stefan Dercon, Professor of Economic Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government and Director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies at the University of Oxford, to highlight the outcomes from his latest book “Gambling on Development: Why some countries win and others lose”.

The topic of the SEI and SweDev dialogue was how countries are managing growth and sustainable development. Professor Dercon was introduced by George Marbuah, SEI Research Fellow.

“It was a pleasure to host Professor Dercon who delivered a great and interesting keynote about why some countries win and others lose in development. Drawing on his extensive academic research and policy experience, he provided new insights on why this may be the case. Professor Dercon provocatively argued that the answer lies not in specific policies per se in many developing countries, but rather in a ‘development bargain’, where the elite in a particular country is able to ‘shift from protecting their own positions to gambling on a growth-based future’.”

George Marbuah, SweDev member and SEI Research Fellow

Gambling on Development: Why some countries win and others lose

The book draws on Professor Dercon’s academic research and his policy experience across three decades and 40-odd countries, exploring why some countries have managed to settle on elite bargains favoring growth and development and others did not.

“Aid is a little bit like dancing the tango, it should be led by someone and I think it should be led by the country,” said Dercon during his presentation.

Professor Stefan Dercon

Watch the recording:

SEI and SweDev dialogues on development research. Video: SEI / SweDev.

Professor Stefan Dercon

Stefan Dercon is a Professor of Economic Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government and Director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies at the University of Oxford. Professor Dercon combines his academic career with work as a policy advisor, providing strategic economic and development advice, and promoting the use of evidence in decision making.

SEI and SweDev dialogues on development research

“We had an exciting dialogue with over 30 participants from the global south and Sweden, who posed questions to Professor Dercon. We invite development researchers around the world; both Swedish researchers, international researchers, and researchers from the global south, to give a short talk about their ongoing or finalized research.”

Janet Vähämäki, Director of SweDev and SEI Development and Aid Policy Team Lead

The series of dialogues on development research, an initiative taken by the Development and Aid Policy Team at SEI Headquarters and the Swedish Development Researchers Network (SweDev), kicked off in the end of 2021. Our research-based community has raised the need for learning spaces and dialogue platforms for development research. This dialogue with Stefan Dercon was part of SEI’s and SweDev’s dialogue series on development research.

@SweDevNetwork @SEIresearch
#Agenda2030 #SustainableDevelopment #DevelopmentResearch #DevelopmentPolicy

Read about the dialogue with Professor Dercon

Read about the book

Call for applications: Co-operative Research Programme

Are you organising an international conference or workshop on state-of-the-art research issues in agriculture, food, fisheries or forests in 2023?

Or would you like to spend time working with researchers in another country to help your research project, maybe as part of a sabbatical?

Apply for funding from the OECD CRP (Co-operative Research Programme: Sustainable Agricultural and Food Systems).

Application

The deadline to apply is Saturday 10 September 2022, midnight (Paris time).

Please note the guidelines and conditions, selection criteria and research themes for funding for fellowship award and conference sponsorship. Applications must be submitted through the appropriate online application forms. PDF forms are provided to help prepare applications before going to the online forms.

Applicants must be residents in one of the countries participating in the Programme. Please consult the files which give general information on the country’s research institutes and universities.

Applications relevant to the work of the OECD Committee for Agriculture and other bodies are particularly welcome:

  • Sustainable productivity growth and food security and nutrition;
  • New technologies and practices for food production; Food loss and waste;
  • Antimicrobial resistance; One Health approach to agriculture and food systems;
  • Innovations in the transfer and development of agricultural knowledge, including Indigenous and traditional knowledge
  • Digital technologies and digitalisation;
  • Climate change, including pathways to net zero, carbon sequestration in agriculture, forestry and land use, water use;
  • Plant and animal breeding to enhance sustainable productivity growth and resilience to climatic events; Diversity of crop production;
  • Fisheries and aquaculture productivity, sustainability and resilience.

What is the Co-operative Research Programme: Sustainable Agricultural and Food Systems (CRP)? 

The OECD’s Co-operative Research Programme: Sustainable Agricultural and Food Systems (CRP) exists to strengthen scientific knowledge and provide relevant scientific information and advice that will inform future policy decisions related to the sustainable use of natural resources in the areas of agriculture, food, fisheries and forests.

SweDev researchers selected to the Swedish delegation

Group of young adults, representing the new generation and development.

The Government of Sweden have selected four associated SweDev researchers to join the Swedish delegation at the ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development taking place 25th – 28th of April.

Jesper Sundewall at Lund University, George Marbuah, Research Fellow at SEI, Sana Rouis Skandrani, Researcher at Karlstad University and Janet Vähämäki, Director of SweDev and Team Lead at SEI, will all be joining the Swedish delegation and contribute with their research expertise to the Forum on Financing for Development. 

“I am really happy that researchers representing academia were invited to the ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development. This shows that the SweDev network can play a role in coordinating representation to these types of High-Level Conferences on Global Development and thus bridge science and policy.”

Janet Vähämäki

The opportunity was offered to SweDev members after a request from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs to coordinate participation from researchers at the Forum. Future opportunities are offered only to SweDev members – sign up below to become a member.

Read more about the 2022 ECOSOC Forum

Become a SweDev member


News text written by Ylva Rylander, Communications Officer at Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) for SweDev.

DevRes 2022 – Transforming Development Research for Sustainability

Summer valley.

The upcoming DevRes conference will be held on August 22-24, 2022 and will be hosted by GlobeLife, a joint initiative of Uppsala University and Karolinska Institutet. The conference will offer both onsite participation as well as digital live-streaming and chat functions. The 1st day of the conference will be at Uppsala University, the 2nd day fully online and the 3rd day at Karolinska Institutet.

SweDev at DevRes2022

More details will follow.

  • ‘Bridging research and policymaking in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda’: 13:30-14:30 on 22 August in Uppsala. Onsite participation only.
  • ‘Planetary health: the role of coastal ecosystems’: 11:00-12:00 on 22 August in Uppsala. Hybrid: onsite and online participation.
  • SweDev annual assembly: 23 August, 16:15-17:30 CEST. Mingle at 17:30-18.30. Learn more about SweDev, influence the workplan and meet SweDev’s secretariat and Steering Committee. The SweDev assembly is open to all. Join us online or in Uppsala. Registration is required. We invite all participants to a mingle after the event.

Transforming Development Research for Sustainability

The theme for the upcoming conference is ‘Transforming development research for sustainability, as It is becoming increasingly clear that sustainability is the key to our planet and the future of humanity. We must make haste at achieving this before 2030, estimated as the climate’s ‘tipping point’, which could lead to unpredictable consequences.

A major part of the conference will focus on how we can achieve sustainability in health for both humans and our planet. This requires that we look at transforming large parts of our society and restructuring systems within our society such as food and energy production, urban planning, digitization, education, preventive health work as well as health and social care.

In order to achieve this globally for all people and not just individual countries, we need to explore both new forms of cooperation and the generation of new knowledge. Here, research is absolutely essential if we are to discover novel systems that will ensure the longevity of our society.

About DevRes

The Development Research Conference (DevRes) was founded in 2016 as a multi-disciplinary forum for researchers working in fields linked to development and sustainability.

The conference aims to promote networking and collaboration between researchers, public agencies, policymakers, organisations and practitioners, in order to find solutions for poverty and develop strategies for the future of sustainable development.

SweDev’s interview series 2022: Meet Cristiano Lanzano 

A flooded street in Uganda.

Cristiano Lanzano is a social anthropologist at the Nordic Africa Institute (NAI). Lanzano’s research focuses on mining, natural resources and conservation, and the anthropology of sustainable development. In conversation with SweDev’s Alessandro Giacardi, he describes the current Covid-19 and development challenges through an anthropology lens. 

Q: The Covid-19 pandemic has destabilized the world’s balance, worsening the situation of the most fragile countries. With this in mind, what do you think has changed and will change within development studies? 

A: Even if we are still too close to the pandemic to evaluate its long-term consequences, two main elements emerged. Firstly, travel restrictions have given more space to researchers based in the Global South to speak for their reality and witness the Covid-19 impacts on their territories. This may open opportunities for a less Eurocentric production of academic knowledge in the field of development, but the final outcomes remain to be seen.

Secondly, the pandemic places issues such as global health, associated with global inequalities back on the agenda. The pandemic highlights the role of science and technology and calls for a truly global approach and for a greater integration between social and natural sciences. 

Cristiano Lanzano. Photo: NAI

Cristiano Lanzano, Nordic Africa Institute (NAI). Photo: NAI.

Q: You are a social anthropologist focusing on anthropology of development. What does development mean in the context of anthropology and what are you teaching to your students? 

A: The relationship between anthropology and development is complex but very stimulating. James Ferguson has provokingly defined development as “the evil twin of anthropology.” Many anthropologists tend to distance themselves from development as a discipline and practice, even if historically we have a lot in common. Especially when western anthropologists conduct research in the Global South, they can often be mistaken for development workers. After all, beside our background, we often share the same interest for certain topics, and networks. When I first did my fieldwork in Senegal, my initial contact was an Italian NGO working there: this shaped the way I looked at reality during fieldwork, even if I tried to be aware of it and develop a critical stance.


Written by Cristiano Lanzano, Senior Researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute and Alessandro Giacardi, Communication and Research Intern at Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) for the Development and Aid Policy Team and SweDev. Edits by Ylva Rylander and Alice Castensson.