Evidence for Policymakers

The Hague, The Netherlands

1 – 2 juli 2020


In the past few years “post truth” has become such a widespread phenomenon, making it seem that realpolitik is the new standard for policymaking. At the same time the instruments for creating evidence for policymakers have tremendously grown with the introduction of Big Data and the development of algorithms for generating new insights. Another widespread development is the use of behavior insights in order to enhance the effectiveness of policy instruments. 

Evidence for the effectiveness of new policy interventions is often related to the evaluation of policymaking. National Statistical Offices and many other governmental agencies play a role here. Evidence may also be used for the prediction of the effectiveness of new policies. In the Netherlands, the Policy Analysis Agencies (Plan Bureaus) have gained a special reputation to generate broadly accepted calculations which predict the effectiveness of political programs. Behavior Insight Teams in different parts of the world also have gained a reputation in creating well substantiated instruments to predict and enhance the effectiveness of policy interventions.   

In all of these processes of shaping evidence informed policymaking, scientists from all kind of disciplines, whether it is data science, statistics, policy research, behavioral sciences or a structured way of fact checking, play a crucial role to substantiate the development of policies. These processes for a sound substantiation for policymaking are a main contribution to more effective and predictable policies, if well organized.

Organizing evidence for policy

The way that evidence for policy is organized, differs strongly per country or region in the world. In the Anglo-Saxon culture we see Chief Government scientists, organizing the impact of science form inside the Ministries.  In 2010, the UK Prime Minister has successfully launched its What Works Networks with their related Behavior Insight Teams. In the US, we have seen What Works Cities and the “data for evidence” initiatives, started at the White House. Moreover, in January 2019, the US federal government has signed into law the “Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking  Act”. In the European Union in 2016, the Science Advice mechanism has evolved and Joint Research Centres play a role. The Netherlands has its Central Policy Analysis Agencies. In Singapore we see a National Research Council, housed at the Prime Minister’s Office.

Especially in democracies, evidence for policy is needed and needs to be robust. Bringing together the managers of these processes will create new insights and mutual benefits. This conference has the aim to bring together these experts worldwide to learn which methods and instruments can be applied for which situations and how they may improve the quality of evidence provided. 

The Conference in The Hague

The city of the Hague has recently welcomed the Department for Governance and Global affairs from Leiden University, the oldest university of the Netherlands. The Hague also houses many international institutes, including the main national organizations for research and statistics. It also houses the international Network for Advancing and Evaluating the Societal Impact of Science AESIS. The conference will take place in Juli 2020. Leiden University and ScienceWorks (the founders of the AESIS Network) will be the organizers of this event.

Provisional Issues

The conference will treat a range of issues that influence our capacity to enhance the development and practical use of evidence for policymakers. Our PAC (see hereunder) will advise us in defining them. A short list of issues may include:

- Definitions of “evidence” and “evidence informed policymaking”

- How to convince policymakers to use evidence

- Ex post evidence and ex ante evidence

- How does evidence lead to more effective policymaking

- Structured data for policymakers

- Nudging

- Internal organization of evidence within government

- Evidence for politicians and parliaments

- Enhancing the usability of research from universities and science councils

- Effective use of algorithms for policymakers


Program Advisory Committee (PAC)

The following experts have confirmed their participation:

Leiden University Erwin Muller (Chair) 
Alliance for Useful Evidence/NESTA Jonathan Breckon
The Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) Frans Brom
Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcome Daniel Sarewitz
Ministry of Finance Julien Spliet
International Network for Government Science Advice Peter Gluckman
Results for America David Medina
OECD Unit for Evidence, Monitoring and Policy Evaluation Stephane Jacobzone
Unit Science Advice to Policy, EU David Mair
Sense about Science Sile Lane
Evidence & Policy Journal Katherine Smith
Dutch Association of Universities (VSNU) Pieter Duisenberg
Center for Data Science and Public Policy Rayid Ghani
USA Data Coalition Nick Hart 
Africa Center for Evidence Ruth Stewart  
Dutch Association for Policy Evaluators (Vide) Peter van der Knaap
Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) Peter Werkhoven
University of Twente Barend van der Meulen
Science Advice Initiative of Finland Jaakko Kuosmanen
Science Advice for Policy by European Academies Toby Wardman
Transforming Evidence Kathryn Oliver
Campbell Collaboration Howard White
Leiden University Jaap van den Herik
Leiden University Bernard Steunenberg
Erasmus University Rotterdam Peter van Hoesel
Rathenau Instituut Melanie Peters
Statistics Netherlands (CBS) Bert Kroese



Algemene informatie Aanmelden


Leiden University, Wijnhaven, The Hague

Universiteit Leiden, Wijnhaven

Turfmarkt 99
2511 DP The Hague

Reizen naar de conferentie locatie

The conference will take place in Leiden University, Wijnhaven in the Hague, which is located 5 minutes from the central station. If you want to come by car, which we would not suggest because of the costs and traffic, you can reserve a parking spot on the website of ‘Parkeren in Museumkwartier’ (via this link), which is also the cheapest option for parking in the city center.