Making science work for development

The first meeting of the ABID Advisory Group

29 October 2015

The first meeting of the Advisory Group for the Assessing Business Impact for Development project took place on 14 October.

The Group includes seven public funders and ten companies. The meeting highlighted a couple of key points:

The Group members clarified that the organisations’ diverse incentives overlap enough to be worth trying to define research questions.

The Group discussed seven themes synthesised from our conversations over the last year, and agreed that the prroject will focus on two main areas:

1. Developing norms and standards for environmental and social impact assessment.

For example, if a supermarket is buying flowers from Kenya, and mangoes from India, and it would like to be able to rigorously compare its social and environmental impact across these product lines. To do this, or to compare between more diverse things (building a school vs providing solar lighting, for example) might mean moving towards an overarching framework for assessing impact, or agreed indicators for impact, or even, an agreed approach for valuation of impact.

2. Assessing the impact of multiple businesses in one location.

This comes in two parts:

(i) Understand the impact of partnerships between businesses. E.g. a mobile money provider and an energy provider work together to provide pay-as-you-go solar: what impact has this had for the businesses and for the customers?

(ii) Assess the impacts of a cluster of diverse businesses in one district or region. So, if a mine, an education technology company and a bank are all in one district, what does the combination of opportunity mean for people on the ground? Does it add to more than the sum of the parts? Are there any unintended knock-on effects?

Before the next meeting in February, the Secretariat will need to map these, and provide sensible suggestions on where UK academics could make a valuable contribution. 

Read more in about the meeting and the project's background in the blog: Teaming-up research and business to uncover impact on development. 

  • Working with businesses
  • Ian Thornton

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