Editorial - ESRC-DFID research: changing lives
The ESRC-DFID Scheme aims to generate world-class research that will contribute to improving the lives of poor people in developing countries. When I talk about impact I am always thinking about how research will eventually change lives. One of the roles of the Scheme’s Strategic Advisory Team is to help make that happen.
In June I was in Rio for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) where one of my main objectives was to emphasise the need for research evidence to inform both policy and practice. One of the most positive messages that I took from Rio was the increasing demand for the types of research and evidence that the ESRC-DFID Scheme is producing. The Conference agreed to start developing a set of Sustainable Development Goals and I see that the Scheme’s research has much to offer this process. The UK is also leading the discussion of the post MDG agenda with the Prime Minister co-Chairing a High-Level UN Advisory Panel. In this context, the next few years will offer very significant opportunities for ESRC-DFID research to contribute to global processes designed to improve lives.
Another message that I took away from Rio was the importance of being able to provide examples of how lives are changing through development interventions. Many people that I talked to felt that it is becoming increasingly important to be able to demonstrate progress and also to explore a wider range of approaches to deliver impact and improvements in the lives of the poor. I was struck by an observation that many of the examples of success presented at Rio had come from either the private sector or social enterprises which made me think that these groups need to be seen as increasingly important potential users of the Scheme’s research as well as the traditional groups of governments, development agencies and civil society.
One of the ways that the Scheme will build its impact is through bringing together the results from groups of related projects. Recently, two reviews were commissioned by the Scheme to look at clusters of projects working on the themes of Food Security and Social Protection. This is an exciting development for the Scheme and I am looking forward to seeing the results later this year as it will help to demonstrate the wider impact of the Scheme and feed this information to potential users and impact partners.
I do see that the impact and reach of the Scheme’s research continues to grow as is highlighted on the Scheme's website. It is very pleasing for me to highlight from the website that there are ongoing discussions about the future of the scheme, including a potential Phase 3 that would build on the very real successes of previous rounds. The formal announcement is expected during August and the next issue of this newsletter will provide more information to potential applicants. You can also follow us on Twitter.
Paul van Gardingen, Lead Strategic Advisor for Impact