Politics & Power in Evidence-based Policy

International Geneva, as a network of professional communities implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, needs to gather and filter extraordinary amounts of information, and with a firm grasp of different complexities and uncertainties, make decisions that affect people and places the world over. Decisions about which priority issues most urgently require global attention. Decisions about what actions to put resources and efforts into for the highest good. Decisions about who to work with, through which means, and for what ends.

For many, the purpose of evidence-based thinking as applied to global policy is to help navigate and justify these choices. Yet, strategies for evidence-based thinking are heavily informed by the individual beliefs, values and interests of those people involved directly in the global policy-making process. Who actually determines what information enters the policy-making process and how is this information used? Who is certified to provide and judge evidence in the first place? Whose evidence is heard and whose evidence counts? The Geneva Science-Policy Interface (GSPI) organised an event in September 2019 that convened researchers and policy actors to debate these questions and identify robust ways to deal with power dynamics with the aim to achieve evidence-based policy.

As a synthesis of the discussion and backed by relevant literature, this GSPI thought piece invites proponents of evidence-based thinking to examine power dynamics in science-policy relationships, consider the means to navigate these, as well as learn how to exercise their own power.

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