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Policy research guides one-world thinking

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Existing knowledge, and the ability to increase that knowledge, enables societies to squeeze more value out of every 'unit of nature' they use and to do so in a sustainable way. It is often a question of efficiency and use of appropriate technologies, but it also concerns developing the enabling policies to guide effective research so that scientific knowledge can be turned into action, for example through good management practice.

International research co-operation with developing countries (INCO-DEV) pays heed to European commitments in international fora and bi-regional dialogue before deciding on priorities and projects. Policy research must have an audience beyond academia - it must speak to political and economic decision-makers and empower scientists to oil the wheels of change. Policy research also explores new ways of generating knowledge, sharing experiences and learning, e.g. through life-long learning to take account of increasing life expectancy and changing lifestyles. One of the main goals of international research co-operation is to address problems that do not stop at borders. The programme therefore brings together scientists from several countries within a geographic area to analyse processes which can lead to policy formulation addressing underlying causes of problems, such as finding a response to AIDS/HIV, conflicting demand for scarce water resources, and use of a region's biodiversity.

INCO-DEV has had an impact on various policy areas including health promotion, environmental management, education and learning, and conservation.

Examples of INCO-DEV policy research projects and actions

Bullet Policy-decision support for sustainable adaptation of China's agriculture to globalisation

Bullet Management policies for priority water pollutants and their effects on foods and human health: general methodology and application to Chinese river basins

Bullet Barriers to and conditions for the involvement of private capital and enterprise in water supply and sanitation in Latin America and Africa; seeking economic, social, and environmental sustainability

Bullet Coherence of public policy of conservation and development of coastal and marine protected areas in West Africa

Bullet The policy implications of contamination of rural water between source and point-of-use in Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe

Bullet A concerted action appraisal of health system performance in Central America

Bullet Monitoring shifts in health-sector policies in South Asia

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Confirming the international role of community research