Citizen-backed evidence – Engaging citizens in providing evidence synthesis and support (including for evidence-informed policy-making)

>> Watch a recording of the webinar

Imagine that citizens had the opportunity to work in partnership with the very groups that government policymakers, organizational leaders and professionals rely on for evidence synthesis and support. Here’s what that would mean. Citizens would be members of the teams that respond to questions from decision-makers. Citizens would be able to ask the questions that are important to them, and other citizens like them, and be part of the teams that also answer questions from citizens. Citizen voices would be informed by the best available evidence and their values and lived experiences would be channeled directly to those who can act on these insights. 

In this second session of the series, we dove into ways of engaging citizens in evidence synthesis and support, with examples drawn from around the globe. The webinar also provided an opportunity to do a deeper dive into citizens’ roles in providing evidence synthesis and support to government policymakers. The webinar unpacked key learnings from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidance paper, “Implementing citizen engagement within evidence-informed policy-making: An overview of purpose and methods,” and a forthcoming guide. Also of note, this webinar took place as part of the WHO Evidence-to-Policy (E2P) Summit, which was available in multiple languages (Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish).

The webinar series is hosted by three groups working together to ‘put evidence at the centre of everyday life,’ including Cochrane (the world’s largest producer of evidence syntheses and home to the Cochrane Consumer Network), the Global Commission on Evidence to Address Societal Challenges (with one if its three implementation priorities being ‘putting evidence at the centre of everyday life,’ which is being overseen by the Citizen Leadership Group), and the World Health Organization’s Evidence-informed Policy Network (EVIPNet) with its new work on Citizen Engagement in Evidence-informed Policymaking.


  • Maureen Smith, Co-chair, Citizen Leadership Group, Evidence Commission (Canada)
  • Richard Morley, Consumer Engagement Officer, Cochrane and Cochrane Consumers Network (United Kingdom)

Speakers (in order of appearance)

  • Michael Wilson, Scientific Director of the McMaster Health Forum, McMaster University; Chair of the Editorial Group ‘WHO Citizen Engagement in Evidence-informed Policymaking Guide’ (Canada)
  • Vicharn Panich, Chairman of the International Award Committee of the Prince Mahidol Award Foundation (Thailand)
  • Clara Abou Samra, Instructor of Public Health and Senior Evidence Lead Specialist, Knowledge to Policy (K2P) Centre, American University of Beirut, WHO Collaborating Center for Evidence-Informed Policy and Practice (Lebanon)
  • Laura Boeira, Director, Latin American and the Caribbean Evidence Hub (Brazil)
  • Alessandro Bellantoni, Head of the Open Government, Civic Space, and Public Communication Unit, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (France)
  • Brenda Ogembo, Principal Clerk Assistant and the Deputy Head of the Senate Liaison Office at the Parliament of Kenya (Kenya)

Series Description

Citizens frequently make decisions where evidence would be helpful but face many challenges in doing so—from too much or inaccessible information to the deliberate spread of misinformation. This webinar series titled, Putting evidence at the centre of everyday life: A global webinar series for citizen leaders and citizen-serving NGOs, pushes past the rhetoric about engaging citizens in evidence-informed decision-making and zeroes in on actionable ways to help citizen leaders and those who serve them, e.g., non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and governments – from finding reliable information to knowing which types of questions to ask to making evidence-based choices the default or easy option, and more. While these are early days in understanding ‘what works’ in putting evidence at the centre of everyday life, this global webinar series will identify what is going well that needs to be systematized and scaled up, and what gaps should be prioritized to fill, and to work with government policymakers and citizen-serving NGOs, among others, to push for these improvements.

This four-part webinar series takes place between June 2023 and January 2024:

  • Session I. The big picture – Putting evidence at the centre of everyday life (Jun 2023 – recording coming soon)
  • Session II. Citizen-backed evidence – Engaging citizens in providing evidence synthesis and support (including for evidence-informed policy-making) (Aug 2023)
  • Session III. Battling the bunk – Bringing evidence and citizen engagement to bear in addressing misinformation (Oct/Nov 2023)
  • Session IV. Pushing past platitudes – Co-designing structures and processes to support citizens in designing, executing and holding leaders accountable for achieving changes on the ground that are felt by everyday citizens (Dec 2023/Jan 2024)