The world has changed in manifold ways since the height of the pandemic – and research evidence can help governments respond to them. In the last few years, homeworking has become the new normal, there’s been a disturbing increase in mental health problems, and millions have suffered the devastating effects of long COVID.
These are just some of the pandemic’s deep and lasting impacts that researchers can now begin to quantify and understand.
In late 2020, The Conversation partnered on the ESRC-funded International Public Policy Observatory (IPPO), a collaboration of UK academic institutions – including UCL, Cardiff University, Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Oxford – and global networks. Its goal is to help UK policymakers address COVID-19’s social impacts by connecting them with the best global evidence. A new tranche of funding – £2,200,000 – from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is announced today and IPPO will now start a second two-year phase in January 2023.
IPPO has already assessed the impact of school closures on pupils, parents and carers; explored how we can better manage the growing global mental health crisis that was exacerbated by the pandemic, and improved governments’ understanding of the role played by volunteers during emergencies.
The second phase will have a renewed focus on how research can inform policy to support recovery from seismic shocks and broaden its reach to engage with the wider challenges UK policymakers are facing. Forthcoming research topics will include COVID recovery, net zero, levelling up and cities, and inequality.
Working closely with the Wales Centre for Public Policy (WCPP) at Cardiff University, the University of Glasgow, Queen University Belfast, and the International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA), the next iteration of IPPO will also establish how the four UK nations can work together and learn from each other when it comes to putting evidence into practice.
The Conversation will play a key role in communicating IPPO’s critical findings.
As 2022 draws to a close, IPPO will stage three public events to discuss its latest research.
The first event – on Tuesday, December 6, 2022 – will mark the release of IPPO’s report on how governments across the world used intelligence to make decisions during the pandemic and draw on examples from countries including Taiwan, Korea, Estonia and Portugal to provide insights for policymakers and experts.
Led by UCL professor, Geoff Mulgan, the event will include expert commentary from Ed Humpherson, director general for regulation at the UK Statistics Authority; Paula Graciela Daza Narbona, who led Chile’s pandemic response as undersecretary of public health; Juliet Gerrard, the prime minister’s chief scientific adviser in New Zealand, and Rob Orford, chief scientific adviser for health for NHS Wales.
An expert panel of city policymakers will discuss topics ranging from the mechanisms to promote volunteering and mainstreaming social capital to the benefits of social action.
Speakers will include the Greater London Authority’s Alice Wilcock, assistant director of civil society and sport and Carla Garnelas, senior manager of civil society and volunteering; Adrian Nolan, lead officer for industrial strategy at the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, and Amalia Zepou, co-founder of social innovation and culture at non-profit NPO KOLLEKTIVA and former vice-mayor of Athens for civil society and innovation.
The final event of the year will be held on Thursday, December 15, 2022, when IPPO will launch its most recent rapid evidence review on countering misinformation and the effectiveness of debunking strategies.
IPPO’s research, led by UCL’s EPPI Centre, has explored which debunking strategies might be most effective, and why.
The demand for this work came from IPPO’s discussions with public health communicators and policymakers who wanted to better understand how evidence might inform communications strategies that effectively tackle misinformation.
For more information IPPO and its events, please click here.