This week, a distinguished panel of researchers gathered on a virtual roundtable titled ‘does 'effective' development co-operation really deliver development? What can research tell us?’ to highlight research around when and why effective development co-operation works as well as identify research gaps and challenges.
“Implementing effectiveness is not easy. It requires commitment, effort, time and persistence. To convince people and organizations to make efforts [to partner] and take risks, we must be able to show the rewards that when we invest in effectiveness, we will achieve greater and better development impact,” said Mr. Laurent Sarazin (Head of Unit for Effective Development Policy, European Commission) as he opened the roundtable discussion.
Panelists from global universities, think thanks and academic centers with extensive research experience in Bangladesh, Benin, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, among other countries shared their insights on development co-operation research, calling for more practical research in partner countries, to show how and where we can improve development outcomes.
From the engaging debate among panelists, Dr. Stephan Klingebiel (Director, UNDP Seoul Policy Centre) summarized three key takeaways related to the future ambitions for research around effectiveness.
Firstly, researchers agreed that there is a wealth of quantitative and qualitative research on development co-operation but little on how we further improve based on existing research. As mentioned by a panelist, while there are different strands of effectiveness research available – including from macro studies, the Global Partnership monitoring rounds, as well as sector-level research – we need to better connect the various knowledge bases as well as examine the impact of effectiveness holistically across national, sub-national and sectoral levels
Next, despite the research we have available on the positive impact of development co-operation, there is often little push for building truly effective partnerships by decision-makers on the ground due to the difficult aspects of a country's political economy. Many panelists called for strengthening the political will by investing in research that helps contextualize understanding of effective partnerships and their benefits not in the capital cities, but at the local and sector levels in partner countries.
Lastly, researchers pushed for ‘a global knowledge relationship’ acknowledging that ‘research will fit into policy’ only when there are coordinated and unbiased efforts to co-produce research using methodologies that involve those who will be expected to use the research outputs for decision-making. Unavailability of data at the local level was also expressed as a barrier to measuring effectiveness impact for policymaking. Panelists stressed the importance of research partnerships involving ‘academics from the Global North and the South’, in which developing-country researchers and institutions are not just bringing local knowledge, but also setting the research agendas and methodologies.
This webinar was part of the GPEDC Global Webinar Series and organized by the Global Partnership’s Action Area 1.1 that focuses on demonstrating the impact of effectiveness. Led by the European Commission, this roundtable is one of many initiatives to strengthen and expand 'effectiveness' research, including an upcoming call for research papers and a research conference planned for 2022.
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