Bridging the Gap between Research and Policy
The Sustainable Economic Development Unit (SEDU) of the Department of Economics, The University of the West Indies (UWI) recently hosted its 12th Annual Conference, with the support of the UNESCO Kingston Cluster Office for the Caribbean. In opening the Conference and welcoming regional presenters and participants, PVC Sankat underscored the need for the UWI to continue to play a leading role in research relevant to the sustainable development of the region and congratulated SEDU for having dedicated all its conferences to showcasing research.
The conference concluded that among the challenges to bridging the gap between policy and research were: (i) the lack of political will (ii) inability of politicians/policy makers to maintain an appropriate balance between immediate goals and sustainable long term plans (iii) financial constraints and improper funding arrangements (iv) bureaucratic processes and ad hoc policy, driven by external directives (v) an absence of reliable data and the euro-centric nature of research which is often not contextualized to small island developing states and (vi) competition for resources between ministries.
Recommended strategies for bridging those gaps included: greater information sharing; strengthening regional partnerships between sustainable development agencies; undertaking policy-relevant research; the creation of more opportunities for dialogue and communication between policy makers and researchers; implementing a more interactive model of stakeholder consultation and building and enhancing local capacity to conduct research.
Another highlight of the Conference was the launch of the SEDU publication,“The economics of an integrated (Watershed) approach to Environmental Management in SIDS: from ridge to reef.” The book is co-authored by Professor Dennis Pantin (SEDU Coordinator), Dr Marlene Attzs, Mr Justin Ram and Mr Winston Rennie, and is a compilation of research undertaken by SEDU over its 13 years of existence. The book covers varied dimensions of sustainable development research: economic valuation and cost benefit analysis, policy instruments for internalising externalities, and socio-economic determinants of priority setting for environmental management in many Caribbean case studies.