Evidence Commission

Decisions informed by best evidence for responding to societal challenges

Government policymakers, organizational leaders, many types of professionals, and citizens—their collective decisions shape the response to societal challenges. How can we better support decision-makers to rely on best evidence in decision-making?

Data analytics, modelling, evaluation, behavioural/ implementation research, qualitative insights, evidence synthesis, technology assessment/cost-effectiveness analysis, guidelines—what types of research evidence are conducive to what types of decisions?

‘Slow burn’ issues, long-standing concerns, and unpredictable future crises—what if we could exact the lessons for curating and relying on best evidence in decision-making to inform the response to every societal challenge, every time?

About the Evidence Commission

The Global Commission on Evidence to Address Societal Challenges will produce recommendations (by late January 2022) and pursue 'pathways to influence' (throughout 2022) to strengthen the use of evidence by decision-makers – be they government policymakers, organizational leaders, professionals, or citizens – in addressing societal challenges, both in routine times and in future global crises. At the core of our work is better understanding the range of societal challenges we face and how best to prepare decision-makers to effectively respond drawing on the world’s best evidence.

Our audience are people who make or can influence decisions about whether and how evidence is used to address societal challenges.

Our report will be built around key sections (infographics, tables and text boxes) that build momentum for action.

Find out more about our work.

Why now?

  • COVID-19 has created a once-in-a-generation focus on evidence among governments, businesses and non-governmental organizations, many types of professionals, and citizens
  • Their decisions have shaped the pandemic response and will shape responses to future societal challenges
  • The pandemic has fast-tracked collaboration among decision-makers and researchers, but drawing from a range of types of evidence to inform decision-making is not yet routine
  • Now is the time to systematize the aspects of using evidence that have gone well and address the many shortfalls

Our independent panel of commissioners will produce a report with recommendations for ways to better meet the evidence needs of decision-makers in routine times and in future global crises. In doing so, they will build on and complement past work, such as the examples below.

How will the Evidence Commission complement and build upon past work?

What does success look like?

What will change if the Evidence Commission’s work has the impact we hope for? We provide below some examples of what success looks like, both generally and specifically.

  • A national government regularly adjusts its decision-making about lockdowns and travel restrictions based on co-designed modeling (of the likely consequences of available policy options) and its decision- making about vaccination distribution based on weekly updates to a living evidence synthesis about vaccine effectiveness against variants
  • A citizen group relies on evidence syntheses to fact check statements made by government and to advocate for change
  • A non-governmental organization establishes an integrated decision- support unit that commissions data analytics, evidence syntheses and behavioural insights and integrates them into briefing notes
  • The UN Secretary-General supports the design, implementation and monitoring of the evidence architecture needed to ensure that evidence is at the heart of the UN’s the efforts to deliver the SDGs, including the work of any global commissions that it sponsors
  • A research unit maintains a living ‘evidence map’ about human settlements (showing the likely consequences of available policy options) that informs the preparation of a national commission report, its implementation, and the monitoring of its implementation and evaluation of its impact
  • A research unit prepares timely, demand-driven evidence syntheses that directly inform policymaking and feed into other units’ modeling, behavioural insights, technology assessments, guidelines and evaluations that in turn inform policymaking in complementary ways