The final Think and Link seminar “Improving the policy impact of research” as an end of the cycle of the Think and Link – Regional Policy Programme took place in Belgrade, Serbia, on 26 and 27 of November, 2012 in the Hotel Park. The seminar which brought together the 12 European Fund for the Balkans THINK and LINK programme grantees offered a vivid discussions and plenty of useful insights, methodology and new trends from the policy influence perspective.
During the discussion sessions, the debates and the “Booster training workshop“, the delegates of the 12 think-tank organizations, policy-oriented NGOs, independent policy institutes and policy-relevant research groups had a chance to learn new skills and techniques of how to improve the policy impact of their research, with particular reference to generating good quality policy products.
The first day of the seminar was reserved for the introductory phase for the “Booster training workshop”. After the welcome of the leader of the programme, the senior programme manager at European Fund for the Balkans, Igor Bandovic, the moderators Maja Djuric, ODI/RAPID consultant and Louise Sexton, ODI/ RAPID Programme Officer run the” icebreaker session”. Since they were closely involved with the mentorship process of the 12 organizations, they introduced the participants with the agenda of the seminar. All the respective Think and Link programme members had an opportunity to talk about the lessons learned from their particular research projects, conducted in the last 10 months.
The examples of good policy writing, the outlining of the key characteristics that provide the high quality of these products and the turning of the drafts into a persuasive policy document – were also discussed during the last wave of the programme.
The public lecture , with prof. Alberto Martini, leading expert in impact evaluation was organized on 26th of November at 18.00 at the Aeroklub, Belgrade, as a closing of the first day of the seminar. Profesor Martini presented the participants with his overview on “Politics, Policy and who cares about ”what works”.
Politics and policy are separate terms only in English, same word used in most other languages. Politics has to do with power, policies with problems. Politicians are indifferent to invest in evidence on what works (=good solution to problems). According to him, the pursuit of power does not need causality and causal analysis, which is the essential tool for those who care about solving problems. For politicians, the policies they promote are effective by definition. This disconnect between politicians’ objectives and the conditions for good government is a crucial dilemma for modern democracies. He sent a message that the role of the media and the think tanks is crucial in solving this dilemma.
The second day was reserved for the “Booster training workshop“, where the two professional teachers Maja Djuric and Louise Sexton presented the seminar goers with the methodology of gaining policy relevance and policy impact and about developing policy impact plans.
The process of developing the PAPs, the implementation of the research and the process of analyzing and writing up results, the policy advocacy objectives, the various advocacy approaches and strategies, the monitoring and evaluation plans were the main topics.
The overview of the final results and the lessons learned during the realization of the separate projects gave useful and applicable conclusions about the conducting of policy research and advocacy in the Western Balkans, supported by the “THINK AND LINK” regional wide policy programme and the European Fund for the Balkans.