For Finland to become a global leader in addressing the SDGs, greater emphasis must be placed on policy coherence, resourcing, and utilizing research data for decision-making, argues the new FinCEAL+ BRIDGES Green Paper.
The FinCEAL+ BRIDGES project team has published a Green Paper on R&I collaboration between Finland and the FinCEAL target regions, Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean. The paper, titled "Partnerships for Transformation towards Sustainable Pathways - Research and Innovation Collaboration between Finland and Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean for the SDGs" is based on the outcomes of the FinCEAL+ BRIDGES seminar in November. In the seminar discussions, three issues were identified as key for turning national experiences on SDGs into a transformative force abroad: policy coherence, improving the use of existing resources, and expanding funding opportunities.
These three issues are discussed in detail in the new Green Paper. The paper argues that:
- Political coherence requires the alignment of policies, financial allocations, and implementation methods as well as tools for Monitoring, Reporting and Evaluating. The facilitation of national and international trans-sectoral partnerships on Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) should provide the necessary information for evidence-based policy making and the tools to monitor impacts. Participatory and systematic engagements supporting policymaking will bring together key stakeholders, empower society at large, allow for fact-based discussions, and create ownership over issues and evidence-based solutions.
- Current and foreseeable economic constraints require the diversification of funding sources for the SDGs, and emphasis should be put on improving the use of existing resources by investing in good evidence-based policies, rooted in the knowledge on sustainability theory (how and when societies manage resources sustainably). Optimising the use of networks and dedicated platforms, to influence policymakers and create new partnerships, can improve the use of existing resources. Support for projects combining research and development priorities is a cost-efficient investment.
- Funding for research is highly competitive and the challenges of accessing funding from international projects and programmes is a recurrent topic. Despite improvements, Finland is still lagging behind other EU countries in attracting international funding for STI. Therefore, it is important to review what the most successful countries and institutions are doing to support their researchers in attaining strong partnerships and diversifying financial resources. Research institutions should develop partnerships with actors from different sectors utilizing collaborative funding models (particularly when it comes to supporting innovation around the SDGs). To counter the existing constraints, there is a need for increased engagement between policymakers and institutional leadership to support additional funding.
Based on this discussion, the Green Paper brings forward a call to action and provides recommendations for the short- and mid-terms as well as transformative action. The key transformative action for Finland would be to establish an independent institution with a national mandate to support the establishment and development of international research partnerships, with particular emphasis on those addressing the SDGs. Independent funding, brokerage, and coordination would support the development of transformative partnerships – international, multidisciplinary, and multi-sector – and the use and uptake of evidence for policymaking broadly and beyond the changing priorities of political coalitions.
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Photo credit: Mikael Korhonen, 2020, on Flickr