Nexus issues are complex, with many diverse, interconnected factors involved. This presents a major challenge to policy making because changing one factor can often have unexpected knock-on effects in seemingly unrelated areas. We need new ways to evaluate policy in these situations.
There is a recognised need to develop a culture of evaluation and evidence based decision making across Government so that civil servants are better able to address the frequent gap between policy development, implementation and subsequent evaluation. CECAN will support the Civil Service Reform Plan to ensure that decision makers have the "skills and expertise they need to develop and implement policy, using up to date tools and techniques, and have a clear understanding of what works in practice."
'What works in practice' can be very difficult to ascertain, especially with policies that cut across the energy, environment and food Nexus domains, where urgent matters such as the 'energy trilemma', loss of biodiversity, climate change, poverty and challenges to health and well being are entangled in complex ways.
CECAN's team is unique, combining outstanding 'real world' complexity and evaluation expertise in applied social settings. Many of us are already embedded in the evaluation and Nexus communities and we have a shared desire to significantly improve the evaluation of public policy.
Embracing an 'open research' culture of knowledge exchange, CECAN benefits from a growing network of policymakers, practitioners and researchers and a core group of academic and non-academic experts.
The Centre will promote 'evidence based policymaking' by finding ways for the results of evaluation to both inform policy and reflect back onto future policy design - something greatly desired in political and public circles.
CECAN team at the Kick-Off Meeting, March 2016