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How Sida incorporates UNRISD's work: an interview with the Swedish development agency

10 May 2011



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You’re listening to an UNRISD podcast and I’m Erika Anderson. Today we’re speaking to Katri Pohjolainen Yap, a Senior Research Advisor from Sida.

My name is Katri Pohjolainen Yap. I’m a senior research advisor at Sida in the research division. Sida stands for Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

Can you tell us a little about Sida?

The development agency funds a great variety of different kinds of projects but the emphasis is very strongly on poverty eradication. We work with a variety of different countries, but our main focus is in Africa. [Sida] is a state organization and we fund our different activities and partner organizations through Swedish taxpayers’ money.

As one of UNRISD’s major funders, what does Sida value about UNRISD work?

We think that research on social development, particularly in the third world, is very important and interesting. And also, UNRISD has a connection between research and policy work, which is difficult to have. It’s very important to be able to translate the research into policy briefs so that they can be used for decision-making in different countries and ministries and by different people.

Does Sida incorporate UNRISD work?

Yes, we try to do that. We try to use the research that is taking place here and take it to different departments within Sida, so that there are different connections. And the policy outputs we can use in a very direct way. Another important thing for us to spread the kind of alternative views and research results through our networks so that your work has more spread. It’s useful for us if others partners get to know and understand the research that you do here

Are there values that you believe Sida & UNRISD share?

Yes, definitely. Both UNRISD and Sida work with poverty reduction, equality and global development. Those are very important values. Also, both UNRISD and Sida want to make research results accessible to the third world or the global south.

What would you like to see UNRISD doing more of in order to strengthen its engagement with southern researchers?

I think that the connection with the southern researchers is one of the most valuable assets that UNRISD has. It’s one of the reasons that Sida has supported UNRISD for thirty years, which is a long time. These networks are so important because they are unique the way they are set up with different people from different countries. They also do comparative research—it is extremely important to be able to look at different examples with different outputs in different contexts. Why are people doing research in this way? What are the issues? How are the issues different? What are the solutions? All of these questions are very important. We would like to support [the southern researchers] as part of our core agreement with [UNRISD].

What challenges do you believe social development faces in the context of widespread economic uncertainty and change?

One great challenge is the global economic crisis, which brings uncertainty. We need to have answers to new kinds of difficulties and new problems and we have to ask new questions and generate knowledge that responds to the situation that we are in now. There are also gaps in the existing research. Many issues have not been addressed adequately. We need to look at options and alternatives to inform our policy debate. We need to find responses to what is going on now, for example difficult questions like climate change, which can be discussed from many different viewpoints. And those are all challenges we have to meet. Especially poverty reduction—it’s one of the huge challenges that we have to find many different types of answers to because it is in many different types of contexts.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Nothing more than I’m excited to come and visit UNRISD. There are many interesting activities going on and it’s always very stimulating to come here.

If you have suggestions for future interviews, please email us at press@unrisd.org. For the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, I’m Erika Anderson in Geneva.