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The Policy Nerd

The Policy Nerd

By UNESCO Inclusive Policy Lab
Welcome to the expert podcast series on the post-COVID reset. That is, a reset along a more inclusive and smart path. The series introduces listeners to leading thinkers as they debate concrete policy options for such a recovery and take stock of the data that could (and should) inform these policy shifts.
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Treat data like you treat infants – signals and empathy are key

The Policy Nerd

Stand on the shoulders of giants, take the next leap on climate
Mark Howden, a Vice Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, talks about trust in climate science. How vital is this trust for our collective policies and climate trajectory? Why have we ended up polarizing and politicising climate science to such levels? Can we de-escalate? Mark has answers. Listen closely to his discussion with UNESCO’s Iulia Sevciuc on these and so much more.
June 23, 2022
From ivory towers to glass houses, science is transforming
Gloria Origgi, Director of Research at the CNRS in Paris, tells us that science is power and public trust in it is key. There is no hiding – science is now part of participatory democracy and requires changing from within towards new forms of legitimation (beyond the ivory tower of a community of peers) and inclusion of the public. Critically, she says people need hands-on help to navigate the world of experts and expertise, to understand who is the real deal and who manufactures misinformation, and to ultimately decide who to put their trust in. Follow closely her discussion with UNESCO’s Iulia Sevciuc on these and so much more.
April 15, 2022
We politicized science and scientized politics – is that a problem?
Gil Eyal, Professor of Sociology at Columbia University, talks to us about trust in science, trust in expertise, and the slow demise of such. He explains that not all science is equal and neither is public trust in it. Regulatory science is what underpins policy and collective decision-making, yet this is exactly what the public mistrusts the most. Why? It has a lot to do with the distributional effects of regulatory science (as often, there are winners and losers), the politicization of science, and the scientization of politics. Listen closely to his discussion with UNESCO’s Iulia Sevciuc about all this.
April 14, 2022
Recalibrate - our policies were too heavy on efficiency, too light on equity
Douglas Elmendorf, Dean of Harvard Kennedy School, tells us what it would take to reset equitably after COVID-19, how herd thinking (amongst experts and beyond) hurts us and why trust in science is to be restored if the intent is to move ahead smartly. He says that we’ve been focusing too much on efficiency and not enough on equity. That has to change. But how? Listen to his discussion with Gabriela Ramos, UNESCO’s Assistant Director General for Social and Human Sciences.
February 02, 2022
Data value: to share, or not to share
Diane Coyle, Professor of Public Policy at the University of Cambridge and Director of the Productivity Institute, talks to us about data value. She explains how good (or bad) we are at capturing such value and why we need to start distributing it amongst all actors involved in its co-creation. Diane tackles the key issue of whether/what share of that monetary and non-monetary value should flow back to both governments and individuals. Listen closely to her discussion with UNESCO’s Iulia Sevciuc on all this.
February 02, 2022
Universal Basic Services vs. Universal Basic Income - let's talk
This podcast is on Universal Basic Services (UBS). The experts are Anna Coote of the New Economics Foundation and Maeve Cohen of the Social Guarantee Network. The host is UNESCO’s Iulia Sevciuc. Thread 1 untangles the agenda of UBS, going into the: Premises – what is the core of UBS and how it should be approached as a framework rather than a stand-alone policy? Targets – why are equity, sustainability and gender so tightly linked to UBS and how would UBS deliver against such objectives? Thread 2 talks UBS vs UBI, discussing the: Framing – why is the debate being framed as UBI vs UBS and how deep does the competition run within the fiscal space and beyond? Now and later – could UBI, as a single policy with immediate turnaround effects, be the solution for the urgency of the current crises and UBS, and as a complex suite of policies with results in the medium- to long-term, be the solution for later? Contexts – could UBS be more fit for countries with a stronger baseline of (state/collectively provided) services, while UBI could be more appropriate for countries without this baseline? Politics of policy-making – what are the chances of UBI “winning” through support from across the political spectrum and UBS facing pushback due to the perception of increased government intervention? Thread 3 is about knowledge and policy. It speaks to: Knowledge producers – where are the gaps in data and evidence on UBS? Policymakers – what are the key messages on UBS that deserve greater attention?
December 17, 2021
India's quest for basic income
This is a 3-part podcast on India’s quest for basic income. It discusses the basic income pilots that have been run so far and, importantly, asks what they tell about the potential of such schemes in India and perhaps in other developing countries. The expert is Sarath Davala, Chair of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), and co-founder for India Network for Basic Income. He served as the research director for the Madhya Pradesh basic income pilot.  The host is UNESCO’s Iulia Sevciuc. PART 1: Trials This part is concerned with concrete basic income pilots coming from India. It goes deeper into the Madhya Pradesh trial, covering the design features, results, and interaction with the existing social protection system. PART 2: Scale up This part goes beyond individual pilots to bigger questions on the future of basic income. It discusses the paths to basic income’s scale up in India, potential in other developing countries, and use in development and crisis contexts. PART 3: Knowledge and policy This final part talks to knowledge and policy actors about data gaps and, importantly, messages that need amplification in policy debates on basic income.
November 05, 2021
California trials basic income, other 14 pilots are in sight
This is a 3-part podcast on the Californian guaranteed income experiment. It goes deep into the trial, probing it from all angles and extracting lessons for the rest. The experts are Stacia West and Amy Castro Baker. Their expertise is in basic income, unconditional cash transfers, women’s poverty, and wealth inequality. They are the independent co-evaluators of the guaranteed income trial in Stockton, California. Their roles and the data these evaluators bring are key to this discussion. The hosts are UNESCO’s John Crowley and Iulia Sevciuc. PART 1: Trial This part is concerned with the Californian pilot itself. It delves into its design, results, and performance before and (importantly) in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. PART 2: Financing Financing is key to any talk on basic income. This part looks into how the Californian trial and the upcoming 14 US pilots are financed. Importantly, it debates how traditional (e.g., oil and natural resource-derived funding, reallocation of existing funds) and innovative (e.g., carbon price-and-dividend, data-driven funding, dividends from marketing socially-owned data) sources could be combined to finance longer-term and to-scale basic income schemes. PART3: Data and policy The key concern of the UNESCO Inclusive Policy Lab is connecting knowledge and data to policy on the ground. This part flags what we know, what we lack in data, and what deserves increased attention in policy debates on basic income.
July 15, 2021
Data equity – there is no hiding
This is a 3-part podcast on Data for Good. It debates new data landscapes, power dynamics in data, inequities, and concrete solutions to redress some of them. The expert today is Gry Hasselbalch. Her expertise is in data equity, and power in data. She served as a member of the European Commission’s High-Level Expert Group on AI, and a member of the Danish government’s first Data Ethics Expert Group. The hosts are UNESCO’s John Crowley and Iulia Sevciuc. Part 1: Power in and of data The new data systems we witness forming follow, unsurprisingly, the existing power dynamics. They drive current inequities even further. They also give rise to new groups of haves and have nots. This part discusses it all – power, commons, (re)distribution, privacy divide and so much more. (Pay attention to the bit on data reporting as a hands-on response to some of the concerns.) Part 2: Data and governance The COVID-19 crisis did not create (but it did expose) limitations in capacities and regulations of the new data systems. This part talks about how the governments need to master the balancing act of being permissive enough for data to thrive while providing a guarantee against misuse. It also debates the capacities the governments need to not only regulate, but effectively bank on new data in the very act of governance. Part 3: Data and policy This part focuses on data as both an area of knowledge and of policy action. We need more data on data (i.e., what are the knowledge gaps), and we discuss what areas require increased policy attention (i.e., what needs to be done fast as to prevent the skewing of the new data systems).
July 15, 2021
Partner on data, make it work for good
This is a 3-part podcast on new data and, particularly, if and how the private and the public sectors should be working together to advance its use for public good. The expert is World Bank’s Holly Krambeck. She founded the Development Data Partnership – a coalition between international organizations and the private sector to further responsible use of third-party data in international development. The hosts are UNESCO’s John Crowley and Iulia Sevciuc. PART 1: Worries and priorities This part diagnoses key barriers to using new data in policy and governance. It also debates who are the winners and the losers in a system where the demand, from the public sector and beyond, for new data is so high yet the supply is limited to a handful of private companies. PART 2: Solutions – big and small This is a deep look into the big picture changes (regulations and systems) and operational solutions (nascent and in-testing) that hold the promise of boosting use of new data in our collective decision making. Concrete models are provided. PART 3: Pointers The last part flags key knowledge gaps the researchers need to close and lessons learned policy makers need to hear so as to move the needle towards more effective use of data for and in public good.
July 14, 2021
Data is an instrument – are we using it right?
This is a 3-part podcast concerned with data and knowledge-based decision making. The guest is World Bank’s Arianna Legovini. Her expertise – critical to this discussion – is in improving the impact of research on development practice and policy. The hosts are UNESCO’s John Crowley and Iulia Sevciuc. PART 1:  Data and governance Data is an instrument in and of governance. As any tool, data is as good as those handling (in this case, reading) it. So how good are we? Part 1 goes into new data landscape, the new skills it demands of us, and the public sector’s capacity to steer it all. PART 2: Data and COVID-19 This second part is about data in crisis. It looks into how the pandemic changed the world of data and how it transformed the ways in which we use data for decision making – in emergency contexts and beyond. PART 3: Pointers Part 3 looks into data as an area of knowledge and an area of policy action. It addresses research communities to point out what knowledge gaps need closing and it talks to policy makers about emerging ideas/practices on data that deserve a closer look. .... John Crowley is UNESCO's chief of research, policy and foresight. He is the author of 5 books and a further 100 academic articles and book chapters, mainly on political theory and comparative politics. Arianna Legovini is the head of the World Bank’s Development Impact Evaluation (DIME) department. Iulia Sevciuc is UNESCO’s lead on inclusive policies and the data-driven policy change. Prior to this appointment, Iulia worked with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Indonesia and Moldova.
July 13, 2021
Put carbon dividend at the core of post-COVID reboot
 This is a 3-part podcast to connect the dots between carbon price-and-dividend and universal basic income. We spot the emerging ideas and ask how we should be equity-weighting green policies. PART 1 tackles carbon price-and-dividend · Carbon tax and its (much feared) regressive aspects. · Ways to equity-weight carbon tax and the role of carbon dividends. PART 2 links carbon dividend to universal basic income · Use of carbon dividends as universal basic income. · Key pitfalls of solely relying on carbon dividends to fund substantive and sustained basic income scheme. · Ideas for hybrid financing basic income – carbon dividends and beyond. PART 3 is on knowledge and policy · Knowledge that needs amplification in public debates on carbon price-and-dividend and inclusive reset. · Emerging policy ideas that decision makers need to pay closer attention to. The expert is Anders Fremstad, Assistant Professor in the Economics Department at Colorado State University. His expertise is in the political economy of the environment, especially the sharing economy and the climate crisis. Anders has written on the distributional impact of carbon pricing policies, carbon dividends, and the connections between the latter with universal basic income. The host is John Crowley, UNESCO's Chief of Research, Policy and Foresight.
July 13, 2021
Close social protection gaps to reset equitably after COVID-19
This episode is concerned with social protection and its place in the post-COVID reset. We dissect this into issues of: · Social protection gaps – how these need fixing to counter the immediate effects of the crisis, as well as to set countries on a more inclusive pattern in the long run; · Women during the crisis – how they fell through the cracks and what is the place of gender in recovery policies; · Digital and informal economy – how COVID-19 sped up the discussion on the social protection for such; and · Universal basic income – is it feasible and/or desirable in this recovery? The expert today is Monika Queisser, OECD’s Head of Social Policy, and is an expert on pension reform within the organization. The host is John Crowley, UNESCO's Chief of Research, Policy and Foresight.
July 11, 2021
Is ‘victim-blaming’ a thing in social policy
The COVID-19 turmoil came with more universal and arguably more progressive social policy interventions across developing and advanced economies. For example, never before have solutions such as Universal Basic Income been entertained so seriously in policy debates, and indeed experimented with at such a scale. This podcast is on universalism and social policy in the context of the current crisis. It debates: · Whether the shift towards more universalist solutions will survive the immediate COVID-19 crisis and is viable in the longer run; · What are the concrete policies that might take root and is UBI one of them; · How the COVID-19 crisis altered the public conceptualization of risk, disadvantage, and need for policies to protect against/manage such; and · How, by pushing so many more into disadvantage and exposing risks, COVID-19 might have lifted some of the stigmatization and shame attached to need and disadvantage  – an issue that has traditionally affected the social policy practice. The expert is Robert Walker, Professor Emeritus of the University of Oxford and current Professor of Social Policy at the Beijing Normal University. The host is John Crowley, UNESCO's chief of Research, Policy, and Foresight.
July 10, 2021
Basic Income – deciphering the promises and the data
This is a 3-part podcast on universal basic income and its potential to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. The talk is concrete: · Does basic income actually hold the promise of greater equity in this reset and what is the broader policy mix we need to be thinking about; · Why should carbon tax be entertained as a financing option and what are the other sources that could fund to-scale/long-term basic income schemes; and · How solid is the data we hold on basic income and what signals should policy makers be listening to. The expert is Ioana Marinescu, Assistant Professor in the School of Social Policy & Practice at the University of Pennsylvania and faculty research fellow at the US National Bureau of Economic Research. Her expertise is in universal basic income, unemployment insurance, and the politics of carbon tax, all of which are key to this debate. The host is John Crowley, UNESCO's Chief of Research, Policy and Foresight.
June 07, 2021
Treat data like you treat infants – signals and empathy are key
This is a 2-part podcast on data culture – how the private sector built such from within and if/how the public sector should follow. The guest today is James Ingram, CEO of Splashlight and Telmar, and co-founder of LiiV. His business is rooted in data and his expertise lies in the ways data fuels growth. He is also invested, intellectually and philanthropically, in advancing the field of digital anthropology. The host is John Crowley, UNESCO’s Chief of Research, Policy and Foresight. PART 1: Data culture The private sector has seen massive investments in their new data capacity, labelling data as assets and building data culture within companies to amplify its power. Other sectors lag behind. This part looks into: · Data culture – why it matters and what is there to learn from the private sector; · Frontiers of data – how the data agnostic to people is old news and how we should focus on data about people (i.e., understand the why and the how on top of the what); · Empathy in data – how societies are to be treated like infants in neonatal care, with governments reading the data for signals of distress and rooting it all in empathy; and · Digital lives – why understanding citizens’ digital lives is as big of a key to governance as understanding their physical ones. PART 2: Data and action The key concern of the UNESCO Inclusive Policy Lab is distilling recommendations and pointing to action that needs to be taken. This part talks: · Knowledge gaps – what we know and what we lack in knowledge on data; · Policy use – what deserves increased attention in decision making on data and how the public sector should be building data cultures from within; and · Private sector – how business should be working with the worlds of knowledge and public policy to advance the ways we engage with data and use it for common good.
May 25, 2021
Coronavirus Supplement, the Australian way of income support in crisis
This is a 2-part podcast on the Australia's Coronavirus Supplement – an unconditional transfer trial meant to help contain the socio-economic damage brought about by COVID-19. Our expert is Elise Klein, Senior Lecturer of Public Policy at the Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University. Amongst her areas of expertise are social security, unconditionality, and women’s economic security. Her recent research focused on the Australian experiment and the impact on its recipients. The host is John Crowley, UNESCO's Chief of Research, Policy and Foresight.  PART 1: Australia’s Coronavirus Supplement This first part looks into the design, unconditionality, links to Basic Income and impacts, including gendered, of the Supplement. It also delves into the lessons coming out of the experiment that others could draw on. PART 2: Data for/in Policy This part focuses on data and its use in policy – what are the gaps, how it is used, what researchers should be digging deeper into, and what policy makers should be paying higher attention to.
May 24, 2021
Invest in knowledge, use it to rebuild
Our guest in this episode is Professor Bambang Brodjonegoro, the Minister of Research and Technology of Indonesia. He has formerly served as both the country’s Minister of National Development Planning and the Minister of Finance. The host is Gabriela Ramos, UNESCO’s Assistant Director General for Social and Human Sciences. Together we connect the dots between post-COVID recovery, the place of knowledge in it, and the ways to make it inclusive. We go into: · If/how this moment of disruption could be leveraged to reset in a smarter way and make a stride towards knowledge economies; · How equity is to be in-built into our new patterns of development to avoid driving inequality even further; and · Ways to invest in knowledge systems so that they stay agile and provide solutions to the current (and other looming) crises.
May 24, 2021