By Claire Davenport
Large global issues such as climate change are difficult to tackle across sectors. Scientists, politicians, local governments and corporate industries often get isolated in their efforts to address environmental challenges, coming up with solutions that are narrower or smaller in scale.
“When you’re just adopting the views of a single entity or governorate, you focus on its needs only,” explained Laila El Baradei ’83, ’85, professor in the Department of Public Policy and Administration and director of AUC’s Public Policy Hub. “But environmental issues, in particular, cut across all boundaries, and there is a need for different ministries to talk to one another and figure out the responsibilities they have to shoulder in order to achieve their common objectives.”
The Public Policy Hub at the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy (GAPP) bridges the divide between research and implementation, offering well-researched solutions to Egypt’s policy dilemmas around climate change and beyond.
The Public Policy Hub was co-founded by El Baradei in 2017 to advance evidence-based policy recommendations that meet the needs of government organizations. Participating graduate students and alumni from AUC and other universities work in teams to tackle policy issues identified by Egyptian government bodies, developing creative and cohesive policy solutions to the problems Egypt faces.
The hub is currently focused on climate change policy issues, which include examining the effects on agriculture and tourism in Egypt, mitigating the impact of climate change on Egyptian cities, studying the localization of climate change alleviation and adaptation efforts, as well as evaluating the current impact of these strategies.
When creating a public policy recommendation, there is a lot for the researchers to consider: existing data, how other countries have tackled similar issues, what is administratively feasible and politically acceptable, affordability and any challenges they foresee.
After a weeklong intensive training and four months of research on a given subject, each group is assigned a mentor and works to create a policy research paper, policy brief and advocacy tools, such as graphics and animated videos, to raise broader awareness. The groups then present their work at an annual conference held by GAPP, an event often attended by sector leaders and government representatives.
A Hub for Impact
By allowing government agencies to propose issues for the researchers to tackle, the hub has a unique ability to affect government decisions and have its policy recommendations taken into consideration.
“What’s unique about our Public Policy Hub is that we follow a demand-based approach, and we are very proud of that — so it’s not us the researchers and academics who decide what the policy issues or research problems are, but it’s the government agencies that do so,” explained El Baradei.
To date, the hub has published 40 papers that have more than 8,200 downloads across 112 countries, and it has tackled issues as diverse as child marriage and care for the elderly.
Beyond the hub’s impact on influencing policy decisions and legislation, it is also an incubator for the next generation of policy leaders.
By putting together reports and taking part in the day-to-day operations of policymaking — from navigating scheduling to parsing through data — researchers leave the hub well-equipped to enter the policy sector and bring their climate insights to bear through their future work.
“We hope that the focus on climate change is continuous and sustainable,” said El Baradei.
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