By Ma. Verónica Moreno -Head of Solutions Mapping AccLabUNDPArg
Solutions designed or implemented by people are a source of evidence to promote development. That is the statement that the UNDP Accelerator Labs Network stands for. By encouraging evidence-informed decisions, we understood that evidence could come from citizen participation and inventiveness as well as the scientific community.
The UNDP Accelerator Lab in Argentina, named Co_Lab, was founded just last year. Back then, our first approach was to investigate public policies and evidence. Why did we start out that way? Facts and opinions are often both taken into account and mixed during the decision-making process; even when those decisions could affect people's quality of life. Thus, our aim was to do something about it, building and walking down a path where empirical evidence had a predominant place in our work.
In order to move towards our objective, we invited referents with an interest in promoting the evidence-informed decisions to a collective intelligence workshop. In fact, many of the issues that we discussed that day are still topics of conversation at the Co-Lab, considering the need to favor sustainable development, building on what actually works and without replicating past mistakes.
So, do you want to know what we talked about with María Laura Alzúa, Guadalupe Nougués, Melina Furman, Nora Bär, Eduardo Amadeo, Nicolás Buchbinder, Gabriela Catterberg and Gabriel Bottino? Are you interested in knowing what could be done so that evidence is better harnessed? Would you like to know what the obstacles and opportunities are?
Video 1 - Evidence-based public decisions: contributions to sustainable development
Do you want to know what we talked about with Diego Golombek, Nicolás Buchbinder, Anahí Membrive, Gabriela Bortz, Diego Torres, Gabriel Bottino and José Luis Patiño? Are you interested in knowing what could be done so that evidence is better harnessed? Would you like to know what the obstacles and opportunities are?
Video 2 - Evidence-based public decisions: obstacles and challenges.
The context and the circumstances have demanded that we pay more attention to issues of financial inclusion, without neglecting empirical evidence as a pillar of our work. At Co_Lab, we work with data in multiple variants: weak signals that are indicators of possible emerging trends; testimonies, practices, products and/or services used by people - affected by the problems - in order to solve them locally; or experimental evidence, etc. In particular, evidence based on experiments allows us to promote, with greater confidence, the growth of those solutions that work and, at the same time, it helps us to identify the roots of problems.
The next Co_Lab´ challenge brings collaboratively constructed evidence back in the spotlight: citizen science. Because we value the participatory construction of knowledge, which can include the scientific system in the process, but transcends it. Community knowledge represents a source of evidence. We can all be involved in building a sustainable future, powered by collective evidence. In addition, citizen science can become an educational instrument to promote awareness about certain issues and / or behavioral changes in people.
Why did we make this decision? To begin with, because there are relevant problems for communities that are not necessarily addressed by governments nor by the scientific sector. In fact, this promotes citizens to organize themselves, in order to influence the public agenda. Also, because we value the participatory construction of knowledge, which may include the scientific community in the process, but definitely transcends it. We can all build a sustainable future powered by collective evidence.
By working on citizen science, focused on environmental issues, we want to bring the projects closer to decision makers; highlighting the potential of collaborative, innovative and economic data collection and analysis. We affirm that citizen science can provide inputs to public policy, and we want to show it in an agile way. We also want to bring these tools to a non-specialized public, interested in environmental problems. Hence, we are mapping these types of projects and gaining partners with the same interests. We look forward to sharing updates on this in the upcoming months!
To sum up, we have begun by problematizing the importance of evidence and we begin 2021 reaffirming that commitment. Through a learning cycle - exploration, mapping and experimentation - in citizen science, we would like to strengthen public environmental policies and join new stakeholders. Not every path is linear; this time we are excited to go back to the beginning.