5 October, 2023
Key discussions and outputs from the SCOR Board Meeting in September 2023
1. Executive Director’s report
The Board heard an update of the MODARI mapping tool as of end of July 2023. The tool currently holds 2000+ live projects, with over 250 page views, representing a significant increase over the past year.
UKCDR reported that its outputs on understanding the impact of development research through REF2021 will be launched on Tuesday 12 September, ahead of SSUNGA Session co-organised with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). The Board expressed interest in accessing the REF database sub-set extracted for the purpose of UKCDR’s study.
Following on from the report published in May, looking at lessons learned from ODA large funds, presentations were given to teams in different HMG departments. The project on equity at funders level is moving forward with the Global Development Network appointed as a contractor to conduct interviews with LMIC funders.
2. Coordinating research outputs in advance of COP28
Board members were to summarise their organisation’s input into COP28. UKCDR presented its 2021 report on climate change research and highlighted the current work being undertaken on the proof-of-concept for a climate change research tracker. This proof-of-concept aims to establish a baseline of the type of research funding that exists within this space. UKCDR highlighted the differences between MODARI and the climate tracker proof-of-concept, especially the capture of projects beyond ODA R&D, including international funders as suggested by the taskforce set up for the project. The Board questioned the prioritisation between, on one hand, expanding the number of funders and, on the other, making sure that the tracker captures research on climate change that may be labelled under other issues (e.g. urban studies, heat, food systems, poverty). It was suggested that UKCDR could provide a clear picture of what the UK offer is in the space of climate research and international development ahead of COP28.
The return on investment of climate research paper was not deemed of sufficient quality and should not at this stage be published. Yet Board members agreed that the case studies can be used, especially at COP28, to frame a narrative.
3. Making the case for research for development
The objective of the session was to discuss a common approach for a submission to the spending review (SR) and reflect on evidence available and needed. The Board agreed that the SR submission should be submitted by independent members on behalf of the Board.
The overall framing of the SR submission was discussed in terms of value of ODA spend, value of research as part of ODA spend, and overlap between HMG priorities vs development priorities in intersecting challenges like climate, health and poverty. The nexus argument is a strong theme for supporting why more funding is needed in development research. There is a strong move from the International Science Council to recognise that the SDGs cannot be treated in silos but rather as a set of interconnected challenges. The Board agreed it was necessary to show how research contributes to understanding that nexus and shaping how ODA might be used to respond to that nexus. This should be driven by equitable partnerships so that agendas are fully grounded in local contexts and demands, and by interdisciplinary research.
The question as to what extent there would be any advantage in having an economic analysis, and in which area, was posed to the Board. The Board reflected on the overarching message and whether international research was about outcomes or economic impact. The Board agreed that any submission should be complemented by case studies.
The Board was asked to share thoughts on lessons learned since the last spending review and changes affecting funders and funder responses, in terms of key objectives, agility/resilience and how to strengthen country-to-country relationships. During the pandemic there was a global effort to come together to share data. Since the last spending review we have learnt the importance of international science collaboration to respond with agility to events affecting the global community. The role of technology not only in high-income countries but in lower- and middle-income countries was highlighted. This is reflected in the International Development Strategy. It is worth acknowledging that technology provides opportunities as well as risks (cyber insecurities, dangers of surveillance) and caused polarity around vaccine production, shift in geopolitics and different alliances.
4. UKCDR Operational Update
The Board heard a staff recruitment update. A Senior Research and Policy Officer has been recruited as maternity cover, in-post from September 2023. A new Head of Operations was also appointed in September 2023 and a new Executive Assistant in July 2023, filling a position vacant since November 2022. UKCDR is currently recruiting a Communications Assistant.
Marie Staunton CBE (Chair), Chair of the Board, Independent ; Prof. Charlotte Watts, Chief Scientific Adviser, FCDO; Prof. Lucy Chappell, Chief Scientific Advisor DHSC; Adam Jackson, Director International Science and Innovation, DSIT; Gail Marzetti, Science, Research and Evidence Directorate, DHSC; Frances Wood, International Director, UKRI; Cheryl Moore, Chief Research Programmes Officer, Wellcome Representative; Prof. Ernest Aryeetey, Secretary General, ARUA, independent member; Prof. Melissa Leach, Director, Institute of Development Studies, Independent member; Mavis Owusu-Gyamfi, Executive Vice President, ACET, Independent member.
- Prof. Gideon Henderson, Chief Scientific Advisor, DEFRA [apol. unable to log-in]
- Prof. Paul Monks, Chief Scientific Adviser, DESNZ
- Dr Maggy Heintz, Executive Director
- Anisa Muzaffar, Senior Research and Policy Officer
- Adrian Bucher, Senior Data Analyst
- Judy Holman, Executive Assistant
- Prof. John Iredale, Executive Chair, MRC (UKRI representative).