Governing is no longer the sole responsibility of states – today’s reality is far more inclusive and demands coordination with NGOs, non-profits, and the private sector. These are changes driven by the sheer complexity of policy challenges, which rarely if ever respect national borders.
Take for example regional and cross-border conflicts around the world. The fallout from such wars goes far beyond individual countries, affecting not only neighbours but also larger economic regions and global institutional activities. Conflicts and other threats to human security can challenge any government’s policies on migration, refugee resettlement, and food and water security, while also hindering healthcare and social protection services, particularly where third parties are involved.
Similarly, natural disasters and the effects of global climate change challenge states and their governing partners – regional and multilateral institutions – to examine exactly what they are doing. That is, how they aim to achieve their desired policy goals and outcomes, under varying conditions, and with different partners.
Many of the challenges that governments face are transnational and global in both scope and orientation. They therefore require a greater commitment to exchanging information, learning from evidence-based practices, and thinking through policy design and implementation for the greater collective good.
New platforms, new solutions?
The Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) is a platform for increasing this engagement: a platform to link policy researchers and policymakers to examine and discuss a range of regional, multi-governmental, and international experiences and lessons learned.
APPAM is dedicated to improving public policy and management by fostering excellence in research, analysis and education. The association has also evolved from an all-American institution to an international forum, featuring institutional and individual members from all continents. With a multidisciplinary journal, and a range of activities tailored to participants, researchers, practitioners and policymakers, APPAM offers countless ways to interact and learn.
One of the activities serving APPAM’s global audience is the international conference, which rotates in terms of location and local host organisation. The aim is to focus on issues shared by many countries, bringing global research and institutions together to create a programme that would appeal to both researchers and policymakers.
This year, the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance / UNU-MERIT (Maastricht University) and The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs (Syracuse University) worked closely with APPAM not only to create an engaging conference programme, but also to encourage the interaction of policymakers, programme funders, project implementers and researchers – working in both developed and developing countries.
As Europe’s first graduate school of governance and UN think tank, and as the USA’s leading graduate school of public affairs, we are delighted to host the 2017 APPAM International Research Conference in the capital of Europe, Brussels, Belgium on 13-14 July.
We are particularly proud of several elements of the conference programme. When reviewing the papers selected for presentation, irrespective of the theme of choice, we observed a rich diversity in cases as well as in nationality and background of speakers. The conference will be truly international, allowing us to learn from multiple country experiences, while hosting a global audience. Research in developing countries, or using developing country data, can challenge researchers that may struggle with imperfect conditions. However, the importance of this research is undisputed.
If we were to focus only on analysis done in optimal situations with high-quality data, many studies of real-life relevance would be, largely, ignored. Ensuring that research from and concerning the Global South is studied and shared are the governing values and core mission of APPAM and its members.
This focus on the relevance of public policy and affairs scholarship influenced the themes for the two plenary sessions. On 13 July we host a plenary session on migration policy. With the conflict in the Middle East ongoing for years now, and drought affecting millions of people in the Horn of Africa, international migration flows are substantial. Yet policy responses are slow and often inadequate to deal with the consequences in productive ways.
On 14 July we close the conference with a plenary on the role of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in tackling poverty. While the SDGs have been adopted by all UN Member States, the policies needed to achieve them effectively and efficiently are not agreed upon universally. For instance, while we are clear on the purpose of SDG#1 to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere”, the road towards this goal can and should be debated.
Each plenary session will address a policy issue that requires responses at local, national and supranational levels. With leading academics and experienced practitioners and policymakers participating on the panels, from developed and developing countries, we look forward to robust, engaging, and forward-looking debates. Our goals are for participants to engage during the event and develop networks that will allow them to conduct meaningful policy scholarship that has direct implications for improving the lives of others.
Join us! You’ll have fun, meet many new people, and learn a great deal through the sessions and interactions. We look forward to seeing you in Brussels!
Authors and academic members of the APPAM International Conference organising committee:
Prof. David Van Slyke, Dean of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs (Syracuse University), Louis A. Bantle Chair in Business and Government Policy
Dr. Mindel van de Laar, PhD Director GPAC² / Senior Programme Manager, Maastricht Graduate School of Governance / UNU-MERIT (Maastricht University)
We would like to thank the University Fund Limburg (SWOL ) for their financial support in organising this conference.
European Parliament / Pietro Naj-Oleari
The opinions expressed here are the authors’ own; they do not necessarily reflect the views of UNU.