International and non-governmental organizations in Geneva are increasingly coordinating on the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development. This agenda features seventeen goals that are global in scope and highly interconnected. Such complexity allows different actors to draw different technical and moral interpretations about what impact looks like and how best to pursue it, reinforcing their ambiguity. Therefore, international Geneva actors need an approach to filter information and converge towards a common understanding of these global challenges. This approach is evidence-based thinking, i.e. the process of trying to align our beliefs on the current state of knowledge.
Applying evidence-based thinking in practice is, however, challenging because of behavioural, social and methodological reasons. While these barriers are important to take into account, they are not a good reason to discard evidence-based thinking for good and for all. Instead, pragmatic strategies must be put in place.
This GSPI think piece details what evidence-based thinking is, presents barriers to its implementation, and discusses relevant strategies to promote a culture of evidence and openness in Geneva.