Strengthening Evidence-Based Policy Outputs: April 2015 – December 2016
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This is the third and final brochure describing the outputs of the Strengthening Evidence-Based Policy programme. Over 57 months this programme generated and synthesised policy-relevant evidence, and contributed to policy processes around seven major themes, including: food and nutrition; addressing and mitigating violence; empowerment of women and girls; pro-poor electricity provision; rising powers in international development; sexuality, law and development; and policy anticipation, response and evaluation. During the last nine months of the programme additional work was undertaken in a number of other areas. Some would argue that we have entered into a ‘post-truth era'. This is intimately tied to the programme’s central concern with evidence – what it is, how it is synthesised and presented, and where it is lacking – and the roles it plays in public policy to reduce poverty and inequality, and promote sustainable development. It is not that we previously believed we operated in a ‘truth era’ or that expert advice was or should be beyond question. Indeed, the theory of change that underpinned the Strengthening Evidence-Based Policy programme made explicit our appreciation of the politics of knowledge, and its implications for the policy process. To one degree or another, everything about evidence is political. But this recognition does not lead us to throw our hands into the air, or to despair of any possibility that research and new knowledge creation can contribute to better development policy and outcomes. Rather it makes us all the more aware of the opportunities and dangers associated with the different pathways to policy change, and how the politics of evidence play out – and can be influenced – in these different pathways. For scientific study and evidence of what works to continue to be relevant and effective we must rededicate ourselves to critical reflection, methodological appropriateness, participation, partnership and creative engagement, and a heightened awareness of the evolving politics of knowledge – what at IDS we call ‘engaged excellence’. The outputs described in this brochure, and the demonstrable policy impacts they have already had, help point the way.