Evidence-informed policy, ‘wicked problems’, and inclusive growth


Evidence-informed policy, ‘wicked problems’ and inclusive growth

In this presentation delivered during the UNESCO Bureau of the Intergovernmental Council of the Management of Social Transformations (MOST) Programme, Professor Brian Head discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic can inform societies on the management of complex problems. In particular, he discusses how wicked problems require a revised approach focused on collaboration and expertise, touching on how evidence-informed and inclusive processes can mitigate disputes between policymakers, create transparent policy processes and encourage public trust by using science expertise as a secure base to counter disinformation. He notes:


  • The major, complex problems societies face are multi-dimensional and inter-connected;
  • Policy makers and researchers have differing perspectives on the nature of and potential responses to such problems;
  • Conflicting views are intensified by differences in values, interests and knowledge;
  • Governments sometimes rush into quick but one-sided policy responses; 
  • Bridging the knowledge gaps and value differences will require shared approaches;
  • Inclusive dialogue and transparent policy processes can help build robust solutions.


Brian Head is Professor of Public Policy at the University of Queensland, and was Director of the Centre for Policy Futures. He was a senior policy executive in the Queensland state government (1990-2003) and CEO of a national NGO in social policy (2005-07). Professor Head is currently 1 of the 9 internationally recognised expert members on the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC).


The facts, ideas, and opinions expressed in this presentation are those of the presenter; they are not necessarily those of UNESCO or any of its partners and stakeholders and do not commit nor imply any responsibility thereof. The designations employed and the presentation of material throughout this piece do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNESCO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city, or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.