ID100 is a new collaborative project, facilitated by SIID, to identify the 100 most important questions in international development. Following the launch in February, we caught up with one of the project leaders, Dr Johan Oldekop, to find out more about the exciting project and how you can get involved.
Could you tell us a little more about ID100?
ID100 offers NGOs, academics, think tanks, governmental and intergovernmental organisations the opportunity to submit questions, which will then be short-listed down to the 100 most important questions. These questions will define how the United Nations’ (UN) new set of priority goals can be met and influence the wider global research agenda over the next decade.
The project was launched in February, what has the interest been like?
The project has generated a significant amount of interest both nationally and internationally. Part of the aim and challenge of the project is to ensure that local institutions working on development issues in the Global South submit questions. Ultimately, these are the people on the ground who understand the ins and outs of development practices and so they have a much clearer idea of what the most relevant questions are. In addition to contributions from North America and Europe, we have had a substantial number of questions submitted from Africa, Latin American and Asia.
What sort of topics have been covered by questions submitted?
We ask participants to categorise their questions based on the 11 themes of the UN High-Level Panel Discussions (inequalities, health, education, growth and employment, environmental sustainability, governance, conflict and fragility, population dynamics, hunger, food and nutrition security, energy, water). So far, the greatest focus has been on the themes of inequality, governance and environmental sustainability. More specialist areas, such as energy, water and education, have typically received fewer questions.
How can staff get involved?
We are calling on all academic staff with an active interest in development or the specialist areas within development (e.g. global health, food security, sustainable energy etc) to submit questions to the project that address the major socioeconomic, environmental and political problems facing the developing world today. Anyone can submit up to five questions to the project, via email or the online survey, and we encourage people to formulate questions together with colleagues.
Are there any other ways staff can help?
Yes. We are also looking to involve the University’s global partners in the project, so that a truly international perspective is represented in the questions submitted. I would kindly ask and encourage University staff to disseminate the details of the project to their partners. Our experience so far is that warm contacts through our extended network have been the most pro-active.
What do you hope the impact of project ID100 will be?
From an academic perspective, these exercises help us think about how we can make our research more relevant to policy-makers and practitioners, and vice-versa, policy-maker/practitioner are encouraged to think about how to frame questions within a research-type framework, which might be more feasible for us academics to tackle. Ultimately, what I would like to see is for the answers to the shortlisted questions to influence policy.
So what makes a ‘good’ question?
I would say one that is both important and answerable. The challenge (and ultimate aim) of this project is to align academic research priorities to policy and development intervention priorities. A ‘good’ question is, therefore, one to that is able to find the middle ground.