International Development – Where is the Evidence?

Date: Friday 6th March, 2015
Start Time: 17:30 hrs
Venue: Winstanley Lecture Theatre, Trinity College

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Humanitarian and development organisations are increasingly pressured to show that their decisions are based on the ‘best available evidence’ and that their interventions and programmes do have an impact. But where is the evidence for this, how does it reach these organisations and who decides what is ‘best’?

Join the Cambridge University Science & Policy Exchange and Giving What We Can as we debate this important topic from both a practice and research perspective.

The lecture will be followed by a wine reception.

Students working in a relevant area to the policy debate can apply to attend the post-lecture dinner with the speakers and will be notified if they have a place prior to the event date.

Speakers for this policy debate include:

Ewen MacLeod

Head of UNHCR’s Policy Development and Evaluation Services (PDES)

Since early 2014 Ewen Macleod has been head of UNHCR’s Policy Development and Evaluation Service. PDES is committed to the systematic examination and assessment of UNHCR policies, programmes, projects and practices. It also promotes rigorous research on issues pertinent to UNHCR’s work and encourages an active exchange of ideas and information between humanitarian practitioners, policymakers, and the research community with the purpose of strengthening operational effectiveness. Ewen Macleod has considerable field experience of many major refugee emergencies and situations acquired over three decades.


Professor Chris Whitty

Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department for International Development UK

Professor Christopher Whitty is Chief Scientific Adviser and Director of Research & Evidence at the Department for International Development. In this role he is responsible for DfID’s diverse research programmes. Prior to joining DfID he was Professor of International Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine where he continues to run a research programme, and Chair of the UK National Expert Panel on New & Emerging Infections, which included animal as well as human infections.  He is also a Cambridge Fellow in Science & Policy.


Dr. Shailaja Fennell

University Lecturer in Development Studies

Dr Fennell is a university lecturer in Development Studies at the University of Cambridge. In 2013 she organised a workshop on Evidence Based Policy jointly with the World Bank Institute, examining the evidence of institutional change on poverty reduction. The presentations and discussions were located around the consequences of not having clear evidence of the impact of such interventions. Her further research interests include institutional reform, gender and household dynamics, kinship and ethnicity, comparative economic development, and provision of public goods and partnerships.


Alex MacGillivray

Director of Development Impact at CDC

Alex MacGillivray is the Director of Development Impact at CDC. Alex’s background is in sustainable development, competitiveness and business strategy. Before joining CDC, he held senior positions at AccountAbility and the New Economics Foundation, and has worked with a broad range of businesses, government and non-profits. Alex has developed and embedded evaluation and management systems for innovators of all shapes and sizes around the world, particularly in emerging markets. He has a keen interest in low-carbon innovation.


This policy debate is generously sponsored by Astra Zeneca , Analysys Mason , Medimmune , and Science.