These are exciting times in the world of post-2015 development – both at home and abroad.
On the international stage, the past fortnight saw the publication of the keenly anticipated High-Level Panel (HLP) report: A New Global Partnership: eradicate poverty and transform economies through sustainable development. The report – co-chaired by David Cameron (UK), President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (Indonesia), and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (Liberia) – represents the culmination of a lengthy consultation engaging more than 5,000 organisations the world over.
For those who (perish the thought!) haven’t yet perused its 81 pages, its headline recommendation is for five transformative shifts for a new, universal development agenda, along with 12 goals on which to focus development activities. It also includes a few noteworthy calls for science, such as ‘an independent and rigorous monitoring system’, ‘a data revolution for sustainable development’ and ‘collaboration on and access to science, technology, innovation, and development data’.
Closer to home, and hot on the heels of the HLP report, the Royal Society last week hosted a PolicyLab meeting in collaboration with the British Council, SciDev.Net and UKCDS. The meeting turned to those at the heart of the post-2015 debate (namely policymakers and civil society groups) to ask what they want from a community that’s so far been largely absent (namely scientists).
The discussion was chaired by Sir John Beddington FRS, and boasted a stellar line-up of speakers. In the policy corner were Michael Anderson, David Cameron’s Special Envoy on the UN Development Goals, and Amina Mohammed, Ban Ki-moon’s Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning. And representing civil society were Duncan Green, Senior Strategic Adviser at Oxfam GB, and Dominic Haslam, Steering Committee member for the BOND Beyond 2015 UK Group, and Director of Policy and Strategic Programme Support at Sightsavers.
It was a lively and thought-provoking discussion. And suggestions were wide-ranging for both what science can contribute to post-2015 development, and why it should play a central role. From identifying robust proxy indicators, to fostering a better understanding of risk, causality and uncertainty among policymakers; from exploiting new communication technologies, to delivering the ‘data revolution’ called for by the HLP report.
Following the meeting, a few distinguished guests gave me their two cents on the questions ‘Should science play a more prominent role in the post-2015 development agenda? Why/why not?’ Click on the links to hear their responses.
- Farooq Ullah, Executive Director, Stakeholder Forum
- Professor Virginia Murray, Head of Extreme Events and Health Protection, Public Health England
- Dr Deeph Chana, Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Security Science and Technology, Imperial College London
- Professor John Murlis, President, Environment Protection UK
A fantastic endorsement for science. But what now? Despite the well-articulated whats and whys, very little was said on the how. How exactly does science play the prominent role that many are ascribing it? And how can scientists ensure that their research is as relevant and useable as possible for development policymakers and practitioners? For more in this vein, see one scientist attendee’s thoughts here and SciDev.Net’s editorial here.
There’s no doubt the HLP report represents a key milestone in the post-2015 development journey. And no doubt that last week’s PolicyLab raised some important questions for science and development. But global deliberations on the next development framework are only just beginning. And where the role of science is concerned, it would seem there’s still some way to go.
You can watch the full PolicyLab proceedings here (a summary video will be available shortly). You can also check out #SciPost2015 on Twitter, or take a look at my Storify for a taste of the discussion.