CDE supports first “Science–Policy Exchange” event held in Vientiane
The event brought together researchers and high-ranking decision-makers to share examples and experiences of exchange between science and policy in Laos.
The panel discussion on Day 1 made clear that Science–Policy cooperation could and should improve. Policymakers expressed the need for a better or more consistent quality of research, and for results to be presented in a clear and concise format to aid policymaking. Researchers called for a space in which policymakers can define their needs, for policy-relevant research activities to be created accordingly. Both parties agreed on the importance of interdisciplinary research and cross-sectoral cooperation.
Participants on Day 2 brainstormed in mixed groups of researchers and policymakers to come up with possible courses of action. Besides developing a culture of cooperation, these include creating a suitable coordination framework, such as a committee or a council that could act as a platform or a space for interaction. Additionally, researchers should be better informed about policies defined by the government, such as legislation on Science and Technology, to understand the policy direction the government wants to take.
The Science–Policy Exchange event confirmed that there is a need to address the gap in Science–Policy cooperation and created a first space for dialogue between the two parties, both of whom are very willing to work towards better collaboration and use of synergies.
The event was co-hosted by the National University of Laos (NUOL), the Policy Think Tank of the National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI), and with the Swiss Commission for Research Partnerships with Developing Countries (KFPE). Four further international partner organizations also provided support: the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) of the University of Bern, Switzerland; the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH); the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI).
About 40 representatives from Lao ministries, local and international academic institutions, and donor organizations attended the two-day event. Among the high-ranking guests present at the panel discussion on Day 1 were HE Dr Souvanpheng Bouphanouvong, National Assembly, President Economics, Planning, and Finance Committee; HE Dr Bounthavy Sisouphanthong, Vice Minister for Planning and Investment, National Assembly LPB; and HE Mr Minh Pham, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative. Day 2 took the form of a workshop that enabled representatives from science and policy to exchange concrete needs and put forward ideas for further action.