Meeting. 2010-01-01
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Support to Normative Organisations
Published: Mon, 12 Jul 2010 10:59:55 GMT   Updated: Mon, 14 Apr 2014 11:07:26 GMT
Sida’s research cooperation supports a number of multilateral organisations in the UN system, with a view to strengthening the knowledge base for policy advice to UN Member States. Support is concentrated to research departments of UN organisations, and to UN research institutes in strategic areas such as development economics, that are often under-researched on a national level. The overarching goal of Sida's support is to strengthen and improve the consultative and normative functions of these vital organisations.

World Health Organization (WHO)

WHO is the authority for health within the UN system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing global health trends. WHO plays a key role by acting as the global convener on health research issues.   

In addition to core support to WHO activities, Sida's contribution to WHO research programmes has been a significant part of voluntary contribution to WHO since the start of SAREC, and Sida has remained one of the leading donors to many research programmes. Presently, Sida supports the Special Programme for research and training in tropical diseases (TDR), the Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction (HRP) and the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research (the Alliance). In 2008-2009, Sida was the third largest donor for TDR (SEK 48 million) and HRP (SEK 32 million), accounting for about 10% of these special programmes' budgets. For the Alliance, this contribution reached SEK 14 million, representing 24% of the budget of the organisation in 2008.

Achievements: TDR, HRP and the Alliance

The Special Programme for research and training in tropical diseases (TDR)

TDR is a global programme of scientific collaboration that helps coordinate, support and influence global efforts to combat a portfolio of major diseases of the poor and disadvantaged. TDR-supported research resulted in 175 peer reviewed publications in 2010, of which 62% had a first author from a developing country institution. In terms of research funding, 70% of contracts and 61% of resources were directed to developing country institutions and 35% of contracts and 36% of resources went to low-income country institutions. Of these grants, 27% were relevant to gender issues and vulnerable populations and 33% allocated to female investigators. TDR contributed to the first WHO report on neglected tropical diseases "Working to overcome the global impact of neglected tropical diseases" .

TDR legally established ANDI, the African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation, under the auspices of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). TDR evaluated 19 available rapid diagnostic TB tests that led WHO to issue a policy decision not to use them. It is the first time such a negatively directed policy on product use has been issued. TDR also developed a tool kit to monitor and evaluate indoor residual spraying for visceral Leishmaniasis, and made a recommendation report to guide the use of genetically modified mosquitoes.

In 2010 TDR assisted ESSENCE, a multilateral donor initiative spearheaded by Sida to Enhance Support for Strengthening the Effectiveness of National Capacity Efforts, to reach an agreement on a common framework to monitor and evaluate health research capacity strengthening initiatives in collaboration with their partners.


The Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in  Human Reproduction  (HRP)

HRP was established by the WHO in 1972 and is the main instrument within the United Nations system for research in human reproduction. The programme brings together policy-makers, researchers, health-care providers and consumers to identify and address priorities for research on sexual and reproductive health. HRP has made considerable strides in the area of maternal and child health, Millennium Development Goals (MDG) 4 and 5, in pursuing their initiative "Delivering on the promise of universal access to sexual and reproductive health: the home run towards 2015". The programme played a central role in the development of a coordinated package of evidence-based sexual and reproductive health interventions that form the cornerstone of the H4+ initiative, documented progress towards the achievement of the health-related MDGs, and compiled and analysed global trends in maternal mortality from 1990 to 2008 using diverse sources of data. The data in this report have been incorporated in key international documents including the Benchmarks within the United Nation Secretary-General's Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health and the global campaign for the health-related MDGs, and used for drawing programmatic lessons through in-depth analyses of identified trends.

Results of clinical research either sponsored by HRP or to which HRP staff contributed were published in leading international journals, including work on global estimates of stillbirths (to find out more click here) and a global reference for fetal and birth-weight percentiles, both of which were published in The Lancet. Guidelines for the use of misoprostol for reduction in postpartum haemorrhage, and an algorithm to predict adverse outcomes in pre-eclampsia were also developed. These studies form the base for policy changes that would address MDG 4 and 5.

The Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research (the Alliance)

The Alliance organized the First Global Symposium on Health Systems Research (HSR) in November 2010 with the theme Universal Health Coverage, a pivotal contribution to the "World Health Report 2010, Health System Financing: The Path to Universal Health Coverage". The Alliance identified a priority health policy and systems research agenda for Access to Medicines (ATM) in 19 low- and middle-income countries (LMICS) across 5 regions. As part of the Implementation Research Platform (IRP), a call was issued to promote synthesis of evidence on strategies to implement interventions. The selected six projects address barriers and enablers to the implementation of effective interventions, and innovations to overcome these barriers. Under the programme of "Sponsoring National Processes", the Alliance supported six projects in LMICs and issued policy briefs including: Scaling up enrolment in community based health insurance; Fostering stakeholders' involvement for better governance and speeding up district development; Improving health system information for district development; and Scaling up malaria control interventions and developed a web platform for Evidence Informed Policy Network (EVIPNET).

United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD)

UNRISD is an autonomous UN agency engaging in multidisciplinary research on the social dimensions of contemporary problems affecting development, e.g. poverty reduction, democracy and governance, gender and conflict resolution. Through its research, UNRISD stimulates dialogue and contributes to policy debates on key issues of social development within and outside the United Nations system. UNRISD also works with transforming research results into policy briefs.

Achievements: UNRISD

The current research agenda (2010-2014) Social Development in an Uncertain World has three key areas: Social Policy for Inclusive Development; Social Dimensions of Sustainable Development; and Gender. Across all projects, UNRISD research addresses two central questions: How can social policies contribute to inclusive and sustainable development, particularly given a context of ongoing uncertainty; and what political and institutional arrangements foster transformative social change and deliver improved and equitable welfare outcomes? Research activities and findings provide a basis for active engagement in various processes shaping the post-2015 development agenda.

Research projects

  1. Social Policy for Inclusive Development
    1.1.    Towards Universal Social Security in Emerging Economies
    1.2.    Politics of Domestic Resource Mobilization for Social Development
    1.3.    Economic and Social Development in the Republic of Korea
    1.4.    Regional Governance of Migration and the Protection of Socio-Political Rights: Institutions, actors and processes
    1.5.    Migration and Health in China
    1.6.    Health in All Policies
    1.7.    Employment-Centered Poverty Reduction and Social Policy in Rural Tanzania
    1.8.    New Directions in Social Policy: Alternatives in and for the Global South
  2. Social dimensions of Sustainable Development
    2.1.    Social Dimension of Green Economy
    2.2.    Social and Solidarity Economy
    2.3.    Eco-Social Policy for Sustainable Development
  3. Gender
    3.1.    Women's Organisations in the Asia Region and the post-2015 Development Agenda
    3.2.    Understanding Gender-Egalitarian Policy Change for a Post-2015 Development Agenda: perspectives from Asia
    3.3.    Gender and Agriculture after Neoliberalisam?

During 2012 UNRISD published 14 edited volumes and books; one special issue of a journal and 11 peer reviewed journal articles; six policy briefs and 14 research papers. The Institute renewed its website and organized five seminars and a number of other events including three events at Rio+20.

Some examples of impact

Shaping Africa's social policy framework and training programme

The African Union Commission's Social Policy Framework is strongly grounded in the research of UNRISD on Social Policy in a Development Context (2000-2009). This research now forms the basis of an increasingly important annual training programme on Social Policy for Development Planners in Africa. Held most recently in August 2012, this programme aims to develop a critical mass of highly skilled mid-level and senior officials and decision makers, across different government departments, with a strong social policy consciousness and orientation, and to better equip them to design and manage development plans.

Influencing the Post-2015 agenda for reducing poverty and inequality

UNRISD research on Poverty Reduction and Policy Regimes (2007-2010), and the 2010 flagship report, Combating Poverty and Inequality: Structural Change, Social Policy and Politics, is influencing discussions on a post-2015 agenda. Evidence from the later report has provided a basis for inputs into the report of the task team on inequality, contributing to the document Addressing Inequalities: The Heart of the Post-2015 Development Agenda and the Future We Want for All. Findings have been widely cited in United Nations documents, including reports by the Secretary-General on poverty eradication (E/CN.5/2012/3) and on accelerating progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (A/66/126), and in publications by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). The flagship report is part of a number of teaching and training curricula.

Influence on the socially sustainable Development Agenda

The UNRISD inquiry on Social Dimensions of Green Economy in the lead-up to Rio+20 has been widely recognized as creating a space for discussion of neglected issues, bringing together evidence from various countries and disciplines to propose alternative ways of understanding the social dimensions of sustainable development.

World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University (UNU-WIDER)

WIDER is a research centre within the UN University system. It has the threefold mandate to (i) undertake multidisciplinary research and policy analysis on structural changes that affect the living conditions of the world's poorest people; (ii) provide a forum for professional interaction and advocacy, and (iii) promote capacity strengthening and training within the field of economic and social policy making. Sida has supported WIDER through core support and various project support since 2003. The contribution under the previous agreement period (2006-2009) was SEK 16 million in core support and 6.5 million in project support, a total of 22.5 million.

Achievements: WIDER

Dissemination of new knowledge and providing a forum for discussion and policy formulation are main concerns of WIDER, and the institute arranges a large number of lectures, workshops and conferences each year. Participants generally include researchers and policy makers from the academic, government, and development communities. In 2008, WIDER arranged two conferences, Country Role Models for Development Success and Frontiers of Poverty Analysis, which drew a large international audience. The institute also produced two policy briefs, two research briefs, more than 100 discussion and research papers and 10 edited book volumes. 

With regards to the production of new knowledge, WIDER is focused on multidisciplinary research and analysis on challenges affecting the living conditions of the world's poorest people. WIDER currently employs 10 Residential Researchers, and an additional 15 to 20 visiting research fellows and PhD student interns are invited to the institute each year. Every second year a new research program is designed and implemented. A total of 14 new projects have been approved in the 2010-2011 research program, including projects on global governance, climate change and mitigation policy, and the political economy of food.  One research project which has received extensive Sida support is example is Building African Capacity for Policy Simulation: Towards Better Poverty Strategies. Sida, in cooperation with British development agency DFID, has contributed since 2003 to this project, aimed at developing effective policy simulation models for use by developing country researchers and policy makers. While micro simulation modelling techniques have been important tools for analysing and devising tax and transfer policy reforms in most industrialised countries, enabling them to assess the effects of alternative policies on different groups in society, this has not been the case in Africa. In the first phase of this project (2003-2005), micro simulation models were constructed for Botswana, Uganda, Nigeria and Cameroon, involving researchers from these countries in the process. Sida also supported a follow-up project entitled Designing Africa's Poverty Strategies: Expanding Local Capacity to Simulate Policy Options, which involved workshops for developing country researchers and policy makers, as well as the creation of an easily accessible and user friendly website that currently hosts 10 country specific micro simulation models.


The International Research and Communication programme on Foreign Aid (ReCom) is coordinated by the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) in Helsinki. The aim of the program is to research, document and communicate what works, what could work and what is transferrable and scalable in development assistance. ReCom wishes to improve aid practice and policy, and to increase the benefits of aid for the recipient countries. The research programme was launched by Danida and Sida in 2011 and focuses on five thematic areas: growth and employment, governance and fragility, gender equality, environment and climate change and social sectors. Sida supports ReCom with SEK 24 million, 2011-2013.

Results from ReCom:

ReCom uses a multi-disciplinary approach for a better understanding of aid effectiveness, which they believe can only come from a mobilised global network of development researchers. ReCom researchers are a combination of established international researchers as well as early-career researchers including southern based researchers from the extended UNU-WIDER network. ReCom cooperates with international think-tanks like the Brookings Institution and with UN bodies like the Economic commission for Africa (ECA). There is also a strong focus on building partnerships with institutions in the south especially the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) which is a network of African economists. The Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS) is also a partner.

ReCom have had their first results meeting on the key focus area of 2011 - "aid, growth and macroeconomic management" in Copenhagen in January 2012. The overall conclusion of the studies carried out during 2011 is that aid has a positive effect on economic growth on average. There is also a clear link between investments in infrastructure and growth as well as health and growth. A study of 36 countries south of Sahara between 1965 and 2007 shows a positive relationship between aid and investment and/or increased GDP in 27 countries. Seven countries have a positive but non-significant correlation.

During 2012 the focus will be on the five thematic areas growth and employment, governance and fragility, gender equality, environment and climate change and social sectors. Plans are being made for results meetings in Stockholm during 2012.


Sida has recently initiated research support to two new programmes within the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Programme on Innovation for International Development and the International Geosciences Programme. The goal of this support is to strengthen the normative and advisory role of UNESCO. Innovation is a key factor for sustainable development, and by supporting UNESCO's innovation programme Sida helps promote the formation of active innovation policies in developing countries. Programme objectives to be achieved by 2014 include increased knowledge and knowledge transfer of policy options for innovation policies, as well as the development of indicators to measure return on long-term innovation investments. Within the International Geosciences Programme, the key objective is to increase knowledge for informed policy decisions in the area of the earth sciences in Africa, Bolivia and the Gulf states.

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Research Training Partnership Programme - Uganda
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Summary of ReCom findings
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Sida's Research Cooperation
has a wide mandate in research support, encompassing bilateral research, regional cooperation, global programmes and higher education in Sweden. The aim is to create new knowledge and strengthen research capacity through the various programmes and projects.