Exchanging international perspectives to enhance evidence for policymakers

Tomas van den Broeke

Especially in times of crisis, the relationship between evidence and policymaking may change dramatically. The current Covid-19 crisis generated manifestations of ‘evidence informed policymaking’ in an unprecedented way, both nationally and locally. It also showed that the need to use internationally organised, reliable data for effective policy interventions has never been more urgent in times of peace. This information needs to be both profound and directly available.

In the processes of shaping evidence informed policymaking, scientists from all kinds of disciplines play a crucial role to substantiate the development of policies. An international, virtual conference taking place 15–18 December 2020 will treat the outcomes of the current crisis as input for the challenge of professionalising the structured interaction between evidence and policymaking. The current learning processes will be analysed in the context of the existing knowledge infrastructure for policymakers. Instruments for creating evidence for policymakers have recently grown with the introduction of Big Data and the development of algorithms. Another widespread trend is the use of innovative evaluation processes in order to enhance the effectiveness of policy instruments and the growth of new standards for experimental policies.

Inspired by such occurrences, Leiden University and ScienceWorks are bringing together a wide range of international experts to discuss the role of evidence and data in shaping policy. A few key developments are central in this discussion, including:

  • The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act, signed by the US federal government.
  • The availability of data science and algorithms for creating new forecasting mechanisms for policy effectiveness.
  • A number of ambitions orchestrated from Dutch Ministries and the House of Representatives to create more robust (ex-ante) evidence on the effectiveness of new bills and policy proposals.

The conference, which was set up in collaboration with the Dutch ministries and a range of national and international science-policy organisations such as the Alliance for Useful Evidence, the OECD and the Campbell Collaboration, will invite dozens of professionals to discuss the role that evidence and data can play in informing and shaping effective policies and politics. Bringing together a diverse group of international experts expresses the hope to foster an exchange of innovative methods and instruments that may be applied to improve the quality of evidence provided.

Overall, we hope to close off the conference with a new and/or increased understanding of how policy can become more effective and more transparent through sharing insights about our joined societal challenges. In order to achieve this, we wholeheartedly feel that we should make data and research results more accessible for policy implementation. And how we may attain this specific aim? We sincerely hope we can come to an extensive answer during this upcoming conference in December.


The conference programme and registration information can be found on our website. We hope to welcome you to the conference this December. Subscribers of the Evidence & Policy journal will receive a registration discount of €55 for virtual participation. You can find these options on the online registration form.



As Unit Manager Evidence, Data & Policy at ScienceWorks, an intermediary between government, knowledge institutes and society, Tomas van den Broeke develops projects ranging from a ranking on societal impact for Dutch Universities to an international conference on stimulating evidence-based policies. Tomas has an academic background in philosophy and political science.


Image credit: Photo by Janko Ferlič on Unsplash


If you enjoyed this blog post, you may also be interested to read:

The silver bullet reversed: the impact of evidence on policymaker attention

The legitimacy of experts in policy: navigating technocratic and political accountability in the case of global poverty governance

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