The Next Frontier in Evidence-based Policies: Charting a Path Forward

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Sham El Sheikh, Egypt: On the sidelines of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB)  Group’s Annual Meetings in Sharm El Sheikh, Arab Republic of Egypt, 1 – 4 June 2022, the IsDB Group held its flagship event on: “Next Frontier in Evidence-based Policies: Charting a Path Forward” in collaboration with the Egyptian Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, Community Jameel, and the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab(J-PAL).

Islamic Development Bank President and Group Chairman, H.E. Dr. Muhammad Al Jasser,  in his keynote opening speech elaborated on IsDB’s new realigned strategy that responds to member countries’ needs and explained how IsDB is ready to join forces with Community Jameel, J-PAL, and other partners to develop a comprehensive South-South cooperation program focused on evidence-informed policymaking through knowledge-sharing and government-embedded labs among IsDB member countries.

This was followed by an address from H.E. Dr. Hala Helmy El Saeed, Egypt’s Minister of Planning and Economic Development and IsDB Governor, highlighting the important role of the recently established “Egypt Impact Lab” and how it will build government capacity to use rigorous evidence to strengthen policies and programs design and delivery. In addition, she elaborated on how it will play a vital role in enhancing the impact of national initiatives, like “Hayah Karima” and the Egyptian family development strategy. The Honorable Guest of the event, H.E. Dr. (H.C.) H. Suharso Monoarfa, the Indonesian Minister for National Development Planning, gave a brief speech highlighting Indonesia’s valuable experience in using scientific evidence to inform national policy design and implementation.

The event featured a keynote address from Harvard University Professor, Dr. Rema Hanna, on the challenges of having evidence-based social policies in developing and fragile countries and how developing countries can design sustainable and responsive social protection programs/policies that fit in crisis times.

A high-level panel discussion then saw a panelist from the Arab Republic of Egypt, “Dr. Reham” elaborating on how Egypt is using an evidence-based approach in scaling current effective national programs like “Hayah Karima” and designing upcoming social development policies and structural reforms.

Indonesian government representatives, “Dr. Vivi and Dr. Elan” shared their experiences in developing evidence-based policies, strategies, and programs for social development and welfare. In addition to the lessons learned in government-researcher collaboration for evidence-based policy, the Indonesian panelists also highlighted some flagship Indonesian poverty reduction programs like Village Fund. Ms. Alison and Ms. Lina from J-PAL demonstrated how government-led partnerships with researchers work, how they can be designed, and how they can help generate rigorous research to inform policy design. They also shared what government-led partnerships with the J-PAL have looked like in Indonesia and Egypt.

Mr. Amer from IsDB elaborated on social protection and development as an integral part of IsDB’s realigned strategy 2023 -2025 and Highlight major IsDB policies and programs that support the social development of IsDB member countries.
Ms. May Ali, the panel moderator, summarized the discussions by highlighting the main challenges that IsDB member countries face in relation to optimal social program design and performance management. She also highlighted that the innovative embedded lab model offered by J-PAL provides a significant opportunity for IsDB member countries to improve their evaluation of interventions and policies associated with social protection, labor, and other programs to promote human capital development.

In his concluding remarks, Mr. George Richards, Director of Community Jameel, affirmed his unequivocal support to all the efforts that contribute to embedding evidence within the policymaking process in IsDB member countries stating readiness to collaborate with IsDB, J-PAL and other partners to develop a joint initiative in this regard.