Three key discussions and outputs from the SCOR Board Meeting in February 2020
In February the SCOR Board met twice: A short administrative meeting on 25 February, followed by a one-day strategy meeting on 28 February to which senior HMG representatives were invited. These included UK Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor, Deputy Director for BEIS Spending, HMT, Director of International Climate and Energy, BEIS) and the Head of Climate Finance for Innovation and Technology, International Climate and Energy, BEIS.
- Views from invited guests on the role of the SCOR Board
Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government of the United Kingdom and the Deputy Director, BEIS Spending emphasised the importance placed by HMG on science and innovation, laid out an ambition to continue embedding science into HMG decision making and highlighted the government’s desire to understand how ODA and science spend aligns with the UK’s international policy objectives and how it can support the UK’s domestic prosperity.
They also discussed the importance of coherence in research and development (R&D) investment, including Official Development Assistance (ODA) funded research, identifying current major challenges for a joined-up science response and agreeing to engage with relevant ministerial offices on the need for systematic, joined up ODA R&D oversight at ministerial level.
- Towards Strategic Coherence
The SCOR Board heard updates on international development R&D from the representatives of each member organisation. DFID, DHSC, BEIS, UKRI and Wellcome each shared current spend on ODA/International development R&D, which areas were the current focus and how they expected priorities to evolve in the coming years.
The Board conferred on opportunities for coherence and alignment, as well as the role of rapid response and longer-term research.
- In-depth thematic discussions: Middle-income countries
The Board discussed the importance of UK R&D partnerships with Middle-income countries,
The Board emphasised the importance of a joined up strategic approach to engage with Middle-income countries, not only because they comprise the majority of the poorest individuals, but also as emerging R&D powers.
The need to think about how best to support learning across countries and transition countries as donors of the future was highlighted. It considered the importance of strategically engaging with Middle-income countries, guided by the industrial strategy and through non-ODA funds.
- In-depth thematic discussions: Climate change
The Board also discussed a paper on climate change which set out the UK’s support for research for international development and climate change, as well as associated research challenges, and introduce a UKCDR-led project seeking to provide an analysis of the collective UK research offer on climate change and international development ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26).
The SCOR Board explored the challenge of complexity and the scale of interactions relating to climate change. BEIS presented the strategy on climate change.
Additional challenges relating to climate change and international development were also considered, such as political difficulties around fossil fuel subsidies, demographic shifts and just transition. They also noted the challenges of understanding the intersections between climate change, international development and other disciplines such as health.
The Board agreed the UKCDR project to understand the collective investment is key to understand direction of future investments to the most pressing needs and recommended the set-up of a funder subgroup on Climate Change and Health to help identify where R&D can add significant value.
Attendees (25 Feb 2020): Prof Peter Piot (Chair), Director, LSHTM (Independent); Prof Charlotte Watts, Chief Scientific Adviser, DFID; Prof Chris Whitty, Chief Scientific Adviser, DHSC; Prof Melissa Leach, Director, Institute of Development Studies; Prof Jeremy Farrar, Director, Wellcome; Harriet Wallace, Director International Science and Innovation, BEIS; Prof Jo Beall, Director Cultural Engagement at the British Council; Marta Tufet, Executive Director UKCDR; Mimoza Murati, Executive Assistant, UKCDR (Minutes)
Apologies: Prof Andrew Thompson, Chief Executive, AHRC (UKRI representative); Prof Fiona Watt Chief Executive, Executive Chair, MRC (UKRI representative); Prof Chris Whitty, Chief Scientific Adviser, DHSC and Chief Medical Officer for England; Harriet Wallace Director, International Science and Innovation, BEIS
Attendees (28 Feb 2020): Prof Peter Piot (Chair): Director, LSHTM (Independent); Prof Andrew Thompson, Executive Chair, AHRC (UKRI representative); Prof Charlotte Watts; Chief Scientific Advisor, DFID; Prof Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser, DHSC; Prof Fiona Watt, Executive Chair, AHRC (UKRI representative); Prof Jeremy Farrar, Director, Wellcome; Prof Jo Beall, Professorial Research Fellow, LSE Cities, LSE (Independent); Prof Melissa Leach, Director, Institute of Development Studies (Independent); Tom Child (Deputising for Harriett Wallace, Director International Science and Innovation), BEIS; Prof Helen Fletcher, Director of International Development, UKRI (Deputising for Fiona Watt (am) and Andrew Thompson (pm); Marta Tufet, Executive Director UKCDR; Mimoza Murati, Executive Assistant, UKCDR (Minutes)
Apologies: Harriett Wallace, Director International Science and Innovation, BEIS
Guests and presentations: (28 Feb 2020): Sir Patrick Vallance, Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government of the United Kingdom (Views from invited guests session); Joshua Fleming, Deputy Director, BEIS Spending (Views from invited guests session); Catherine Bremner, Director of International Climate & Energy (Climate change session); Peter Warren, Head of Climate Finance for Innovation and Technology, International Climate and Energy, BEIS (Climate change session); Laura Scott, Senior Research and Policy Officer, UKCDR (Climate change session)