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Generating knowledge and building networks for science advice in emergencies

The COVID-19 pandemic, like climate change and other major threats, is pervasive worldwide. This recognition is at the core of the UN’s 2030 Agenda and embedded within each of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Yet a clear understanding of our shared threats and the means to mitigate them is less well developed. This is in part because the required structures for government science advice are often weak or absent, particularly in the Global South.

Since 2014, the International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA) has been at the vanguard of global efforts to instil evidence-based policymaking by drawing on national science systems as a major part of efforts to advance the SDGs. These efforts included a three-year IDRC-funded initiative from 2017 to support research, training, and networking in the Global South, under the auspices of the International Science Council. In 2020, INGSA’s work has taken a new and urgent turn in the context of the COVID-19 global pandemic, acting as a conduit between national public health agencies and research organizations and establishing a platform of information sharing and data collection about how related policy decisions are being made.

This project will build on INGSA’s earlier work involving the Global South and on its initial efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will focus on ideas, institutions, individuals, and modes of integration that can greatly enhance how science advice occurs in Asia, Latin America, and Africa, with an emphasis on responses to the pandemic and to emergencies more generally. It will support a comprehensive comparative study of COVID-19 responses through original research, including the creation of a new global platform for tracking related policies as well as “deep-dive” case studies. This will help governments better prepare for transnational crises by using high-quality scientific evidence.

In parallel, the project will pilot a regional network of high-level science advisors linked to a policy intelligence platform for Southeast Asia and explore scaling out possibilities for other regions. Finally, it will rely on INGSA’s three regional chapters in Asia, Latin America, and Africa to generate new knowledge and regional insights, promote science advice to policymakers, and integrate information across regions, with an early emphasis on COVID-19.

Project ID
Project Status
30 months
IDRC Officer
Matthew Wallace
Total Funding
CA$ 745,600.00
South America
South of Sahara
Viet Nam
Education and Science
Foundations for Innovation
Education and Science
Institution Country
Project Leader
Kristiann Allen
Conseil international pour la science / International Science Council