Policy transformation for achieving the SDGs: Can translational research help?

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 will take major transformations of the agricultural sectors of developing economies. These transformations of food and agricultural systems—or delays in carrying them out—will have direct and indirect implications for multiple SDGs. An important first step is overhauling countries’ policy systems and reorienting them towards evidence-based policy making. This is crucial because policy research and the evidence it generates are often not effectively used in the policy making process, even when the evidence may clearly point in a specific direction. What is needed to transform a national policy system so that it can effectively use research-based evidence to achieve the SDGs?

Here, I argue that increasing the capacity for translational research—combining a country’s research evidence with the experiences of its policymakers to formulate broad policy prescriptions—is key for the next generation of reforms needed for achieving the SDGs in developing countries.

Photo Credit: Neil Palmer/CIAT