UKCDR announces new Interim Chair for the Strategic Coherence of ODA-funded Research (SCOR) Board 

8 February, 2024

SCOR Board

Professor Melissa Leach CBE has been announced as the Interim Chair to lead the UK’s Strategic Coherence of ODA-funded Research (SCOR) Board. 

The SCOR Board exists to ensure the UK takes a coordinated and impactful approach to international development research funding. It supports coherence across all government ODA-funded research programmes and those of Wellcome, adding value to departmental level governance, and avoiding fragmentation. The Board is a collaborative initiative comprised of representatives from His Majesty’s Government, Wellcome, and independent members. The Board helps the UK to show leadership in international development, which is particularly important in the face of fiscal uncertainty and multiple global crises.  

Professor Leach replaces Marie Staunton CBE, who led the SCOR Board from May 2021 to February 2024. 

Professor Leach has directed the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex since 2014.  She was co-founder and co-director of the Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability (ESRC STEPS) Centre, hosted at IDS, from 2006 to 2014. As a social anthropologist, she has led numerous interdisciplinary, policy-engaged research programmes in Africa and beyond, while engaging with scientific, policy and public debates around global health and epidemics, sustainability and development. Among multiple external roles, she is currently co-chair of the International Science Council’s Fellows Network and a member of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food). She is a Fellow of the British Academy, the Academy for Social Sciences, and Academia Europaea. 

“I am honoured to follow Marie Staunton in chairing the SCOR Board, of which I’ve been an independent member since its foundation, and delighted at the opportunity to work with the Board’s brilliant members and Officials as well as the talented and dedicated staff of UKCDR. In a world of multiple, intersecting crises, from climate change and biodiversity loss, conflict and pandemics to rising inequalities, technological disruptions and threats to democracy, development research is more important than ever. It is vital to navigate uncertainties, identify opportunities, respond to people’s real priorities and ensure impact, so that constrained aid budgets are spent accountably and well. Development research can also be top science, setting the bar for excellence, interdisciplinarity, relevance, and authentic and equitable international partnering. Building on the Board’s important contributions in recent years, I look forward to further strategic work to shape and deliver the transformative agendas needed for challenging times.” 

Professor Leach is welcomed to the role by UKCDR Executive Director, Dr Maggy Heintz, who has said:

“It has been a privilege to work directly with Marie Staunton for the past two years and I am delighted to welcome Melissa Leach as the new Interim Chair of the SCOR Board. With challenging but equally motivating times ahead, and so much left to achieve to make the world a better place, positioning research as a force for development and ensuring coordination of ODA funding is paramount. It will be an honour to benefit from Melissa’s expert advice and thought leadership.” 

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