In March 2014, CommsConsult were invited by The International Labour Organisation (ILO) to facilitate its 3-day Symposium, ‘Increasing Youth Productivity in the Middle East and North Africa’, at Georgetown University in Doha, Qatar. The event was designed as a platform to present and discuss the evidence base for “What Works” – including what doesn’t – in addressing youth employment challenges in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. High levels of unemployment pose a civil danger to any country, and in the contemporary Middle East the problem is particularly acute. Indeed, official unemployment rates are as high as 40 per cent in some MENA countries. MENA governments are increasingly looking to evidence-based solutions to the problem, and it is this that provided the impetus for the Symposium.
This was also where CommsConsult stepped in. While we had not worked previously with the ILO, our reputation in evidence-based policy best practise, particularly in regard to impact evaluations, led the ILO to seek out CommsConsult’s Director, Megan Lloyd Laney, to facilitate the Symposium.
Megan’s involvement began at the event’s planning stages, aiding the ILO in mapping the policymakers and other key stakeholders that needed to be included. She also implemented social media mapping, recording the online presence of key relevant stakeholders in youth unemployment, Middle East politics, and evidence-informed policymaking, so that the Symposium’s key messages could be directed to them in real time during the event.
Come the Symposium itself, Megan facilitated the Feedback to Research Results panel, the Symposium’s foremost discussion on how research knowledge, once identified, can best be utilised in policymaking. This included working with the panellists beforehand to help them prepare their answers, ensuring that they drew out the best of their expertise. The panellists spoke on topics including:
- To what extent are policies in your area of work evidence-informed? What are some of the factors that determine whether, and to what extent, evidence informs or even influences policy decisions?
- When and how in the policymaking cycle do you have most need for impact evaluations? How do you as an individual, and how does your institution systematically draw down on the available evidence base?
- How well do researchers communicate their work to you as decision-makers? What could they do more effectively? To what extent can well-conceived and compellingly-packaged research findings stimulate the interest of policy makers?
- What are the capacities of decision-makers to understand different kinds of research evidence and use it appropriately in their work? What could and should be done to help decision-makers to both access and apply impact evaluations in their work?
This was then followed by a lively Q&A session.
For more details follow the resource links below: