July 15, 2014

Pitching to the Dragons: Where Science Meets Policy and Communications

Abby Waldorf, CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems

How can scientists mobilize their knowledge for action? During the Science Communications for Policy Impact side event at the LPFN in Africa Conference in Nairobi, researchers came face-to-face with policy makers to learn how to make their voices heard. In the “Dragon’s Den,” they pitched their ideas about food security to the panel and braced for blunt — but vital — critiques on the delivery of their proposals. Abby Waldorf, from the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land, and Ecosystems, takes an in-depth look at the session in her post on the CGIAR Agriculture and Ecosystems Blog.

You lost me in the first 30 seconds of your policy pitch.

Give me your message in a compelling manner.

Until you put your pitch into the context of bigger societal concerns, I won’t commit a penny of funding to your idea.

These were all responses from a panel of policy makers and influencers at the Science Communications for Policy Impact side event of the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature in Africa Conference in Nairobi. The session was hosted by CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) and EcoAgriculture Partners and attendees included conference participants, researchers, and communications professionals from the Nairobi DevComms Network.

A presenter "pitches to the dragons" in the Dragon's Den session at the communicators' workshop

A presenter “pitches to the dragons” in the Dragon’s Den session at the communicators’ workshop held at the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature in Africa Conference in Nairobi, Kenya.

During the “Dragon’s Den” session, researchers and communicators pitched policy recommendations to the panel who provided candid, straightforward and constructive feedback.

Policy makers are investors, said panelist Alex Awiti, Director of the East African Institute of Aga Khan University (a regional platform for policy-oriented research, public engagement and capacity building). Their biggest dividend goes to their constituents, he said. So scientists must be able to place their research recommendations in the context of bigger societal concerns. They need to create policy recommendations in election-cycle sound bytes.

Read the original post to learn more about the panel’s recommendations for engaging policy makers on specific pitches and how to ensure scientific progress makes a difference.

Photo: Abby Waldorf, CGIAR/WLE Flickr
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