In the face of compounding global challenges and the pressing and ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the need for evidence-based policy-making informed by rigorous scientific research has never been greater.

It is in this context that the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (HEID) and its Global Governance Centre, Think Tank Hub Geneva, the Geneva Science-Policy Interface (GSPI), the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), the UN Library, the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) of the UN, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) convened a two-day conference exploring the possibilities for improving research uptake in policy-making.

Drawing on Geneva’s rich landscape of research and policy institutions, the conference brought together key actors in a collaborative format to discuss the barriers to research uptake and identify possible paths to a transformed science-policy interface.

The conference set out to identify gaps and needs in the area of research uptake and to brainstorm ways to further develop and/or strengthen the interactions between the worlds of science and policy.

Two distinguished panels discussed the value and potential of scientific research to influence policy, laid out challenges to bridging this divide, and provided insights as to how these challenges might be overcome.

During parallel breakout sessions, participants discussed these issues thematically across three SDGs: Goal 3 (Good Health and Well-Being), Goal 10 (Reducing Inequalities) and Goal 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), and how research might be better harnessed to address them.

On Day 2, a workshop led by the Think Tank Hub brought together students and experts in an innovative platform based on design thinking to brainstorm solutions to key challenges to research uptake that were identified during Day 1.

Beyond its primary objective of discussing paths for bridging the research-policy divide, the conference itself served as a bridge, bringing together around 80 researchers and policy-makers to build networks and facilitate new avenues of communication and collaboration. Representatives from 34 academic institutions, thank tanks, research institutes, NGOs, UN agencies and International Organizations took part in the conference.

Conference Report forthcoming