OOS 42-4 - Science for development: IPBES, development agencies, and the international science community

Thursday, August 9, 2012: 9:00 AM
C124, Oregon Convention Center
Marion Adeney, USAID and Alex Dehgan, USAID Science and Technology Adviser to the Administrator, Washington, DC

To adequately address enormous environmental, development, and national security challenges, government policy should be informed by the best available science. Yet connections and communications between policy makers, scientists, and other stakeholders can be tenuous. Additionally, policy makers are not always aware of how the scientific community could contribute to informing their decisions. The “intergovernmental science-policy platform on biodiversity and ecosystem services” (IPBES) aims to bridge this gap by creating a global mechanism to compile and synthesize scientific information to make it directly applicable by policy makers. Here, from the perspective of development policy makers at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), we ask how we can best utilize IPBES efforts, what priority data areas are needed to inform our environment-related development activities, and what major challenges we anticipate. We also ask how the scientific community can best contribute to and benefit from this effort.


USAID is currently undergoing major changes, including renewed emphases on the use of science, technology, and innovation in areas from planning and strategy to evidence-based monitoring and evaluation of our programs. In this paper, we draw on our experience at USAID to address the questions described above. Examples include ways that our Office of Science and Technology is leveraging the expertise of the scientific community, the work of the USAID GeoCenter to integrate geospatial information into USAID strategies and programming, and examples of science applied to policy by our biodiversity team. We show that innovative mechanisms for communication and engagement, including IPBES, can have dramatic consequences for both how science is applied to development policy and the achievements that result.