Saudi Arabia – The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and Community Jameel held a two-day colloquium at the Collège de France in Paris, marking 20 years of J-PAL's work in the fight against poverty. The colloquium, entitled “Science and the fight against poverty: what progress has been made in 20 years and what are the prospects for the future?”  brought together J-PAL co-founders and directors Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee, alongside researchers, policymakers, social innovators, funders and the general public to explore the role of evidence in shaping development and social policy to alleviate poverty across different contexts.

The colloquium explored the role that the use of social policy and development evidence can play in different contexts to disseminate global best practices in evidence-based policy, celebrated the progress made to date, as well as assessed the work that remains, forming part of J-PAL’s global advocacy work to identify innovative solutions to some of our most pressing challenges by presenting forward-looking global perspectives.

The event took place on the 22nd and 23rd of June at the Collège de France in Paris and was accessible to the public. The first day of the colloquium featured sessions in both English and French, centering on Europe, with a particular focus on J-PAL’s work in France and Spain as well as its work across the continent through the European Social Inclusion Initiative. The second day presented a forum that addressed the current challenges to eradicating poverty across the globe and the role of evidence in providing innovative solutions in development.

The colloquium came on the back of the end of the first year of Esther Duflo’s position as chair of the Poverty and Public Policy department at the Collège de France, where she has been promoting the ongoing global effort to develop evidence-based policy into mainstream practice. The event will pave the way for informed policymaking that leverages rigorous research and continue to build on J-PAL’s work in ensuring that policies developed and implemented at a global scale can maximise their impact.

Esther Duflo, co-founder and director of J-PAL, said: “As global leaders gather in Paris for the Summit for a New Global Financing Pact to develop a new contract for addressing the challenges of climate change and global development, we need not only commitment, but proven solutions. Generating rigorous evidence on these challenges requires close cooperation between researchers and policymakers, which has been a hallmark of J-PAL's work over the past 20 years. This colloquium highlights examples of such cooperation, including France's Fund for Innovation in Development (FID), and features productive discussions on innovative partnerships and financing approaches to testing and scaling cost-effective solutions. Through innovating, testing and learning, we can pave the way to meeting ambitious development and climate goals.”  

Fady Jameel, vice chairman of Community Jameel, said: “For the past 20 years, J-PAL has continuously been at the forefront of promoting informed decision-making at the government level and ensuring that the policies implemented at a global level are able to truly transform the lives of communities across the world. We are extremely proud to celebrate J-PAL’s 20th anniversary and look forward to our continued partnership in tackling the world’s most urgent challenges.

This year, J-PAL celebrates its 20th anniversary, having grown to seven regional offices with a network of over 297 affiliated researchers at universities across the globe. Since partnering with J-PAL in 2005, Community Jameel has supported J-PAL’s growth, including the launch of the European Social Inclusion Initiative with J-PAL Europe in 2019, and the newest J-PAL regional office, covering the Middle East and North Africa, in 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

J-PAL’s work has enabled more than 1,640 randomised control trials carried out across 95 countries in 11 areas aiming to alleviate poverty, which have benefited more than 600 million people. J-PAL is named in honour of the late Abdul Latif Jameel, the father of Community Jameel founder and chairman, Mohammed Jameel KBE.

About Community Jameel: 

Community Jameel advances science and learning for communities to thrive. An independent, global organisation, Community Jameel was launched in 2003 to continue the tradition of philanthropy and community service established by the Jameel family of Saudi Arabia in 1945. Community Jameel supports scientists, humanitarians, technologists and creatives to understand and address pressing human challenges in areas such as climate change, health and education.   

Since first partnering with J-PAL in 2005, Community Jameel has launched multiple research centres in collaboration with MIT including the Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab (J-WAFS) in 2014, the Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL) in 2017, and the Jameel Clinic in 2018. 

  The work enabled and supported by Community Jameel has led to significant breakthroughs and achievements, including the MIT Jameel Clinic’s discovery of the new antibiotic Halicin, critical modelling of the spread of COVID-19 conducted by the Jameel Institute at Imperial College London, and a Nobel Prize-winning experimental approach to alleviating global poverty developed by the co- founders of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab at MIT.