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DfID: White paper on 'Eliminating World Poverty'

01 May 2009

In May the Royal Society responded to a Department for International Development (DFID) consultation that asked for input into its White Paper "Eliminating World Poverty: Assuring our Common Future". This Paper will set out how the UK Government aims to continue helping deliver better lives for the world's poorest and most vulnerable people.

The consultation document outlines some preliminary ideas and poses a series of questions on four priority areas global economic growth, climate change, fragile and conflict affected countries and institutional reform.

The Society's response reiterates the value of science, engineering, technology and innovation in development and then addresses thematic areas in which we have considerable expertise including building a stronger educational and research base; tackling climate change; food security; and strengthening governance mechanisms.

Selected recommendations include:

  • The Society urges DFID to support the building of indigenous scientific capacity in developing countries to meet locally and regionally defined challenges. This includes improving countries' abilities to carry out their own research and make best use of existing research, whilst also increasing the voice of developing countries in global discussions of global issues.
  • The Society encourages DFID to support processes that promote evidence-based policy making that draws on the very best indigenous research expertise in-country and underpins all of the key policy agendas that affect the livelihoods of people.
  • Responding to the key policy challenges of the future requires increased scientific literacy within governments of developing countries, and improved capabilities of civil society to hold government to account for the evidence base on which it makes decisions. The Society would welcome the opportunity to engage with DFID to support both of these initiatives.
  • Recognising that all of these challenges cannot be addressed in isolation, DFID should support the integration and coordination of interdisciplinary science and innovation-based research and modelling, and their role in influencing policy.
  • Helping developing countries adapt to the effects of climate change requires a significant input of science and innovation, combined with a major initiative to build local science capacity, through infrastructure, education and training. For low carbon development, small and medium enterprises providing renewable energy will need to be nurtured.
  • To address issues of food security, much greater international research investment is required to achieve higher productivity, to discover and create new crops and to develop agricultural practices and crops that reduce the impact of agriculture on the environment.
  • DFID should work more in partnership with other organisations that can offer expertise and experience in developing programmes in particular areas. For example, the UK research councils and UK learned societies can contribute expertise on science, engineering, technology and innovation for development, as well as help build scientific literacy within DFID itself.

This submission is part of the Society's ongoing capacity building work.

Read the 2007 Royal Society submission to DFID's consultation on its Research Strategy 2008-2013