Good evidence = good decisions?

An ESPA project testing the assumption that biodiversity and ecosystem services can help in efforts to tackle poverty, has produced its first discussion paper: Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation: What constitutes good evidence?

The concept of evidence-based policy and practice is intuitively appealing, and has rapidly gained popularity in a range of different domains – including in international development and biodiversity conservation, and it is clearly desirable for important decisions to take account of available information.

However, the relationship between ‘evidence’ and good decisions is not always straightforward. Indeed, an emerging literature identifies a range of challenges with the evidence-based approach to policy and practice including:

  • How to deal with different sources of evidence? Are some better than others?
  • How important are controls / counterfactuals?
  • How does evidence get taken up and translated into policy?

This paper is intended to stimulate discussion – and solicit feedback – on these challenges and how to address them.

The paper has been produced as a component of the ESPA project Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation: Assessing the Current State of the Evidence.