UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy


IPPO to support policymakers on Net Zero, Levelling-up, COVID-19 recovery, and inequality

1 December 2022

IPPO, the International Public Policy Observatory, has received a further two years funding from the ESRC, and will expand its focus to cover wider challenges faced by policymakers - including Net Zero, Levelling up and cities, COVID-19 recovery and inequality.

Drawing of person working at board

IPPO was established in December 2020 to provide policymakers with insights from social science research that could inform and enhance decision-making to mitigate the social harms associated with COVID-19. Since its inception, the organisation has engaged with research teams nationally and internationally to mobilise knowledge and harness its potential policy impact.

As in Phase 1, IPPO will continue to mobilise and assess evidence from institutions across England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, expanding its focus from COVID recovery to also include the wider challenges faced by UK policymakers.

IPPO intends to provide useful tools and evidence products for policymakers to enable them to access the most pertinent research solutions in relation to four key challenges: the Net Zero target, Levelling Up plans, Inequality and COVID-19 recovery.

In the second phase of IPPO’s work, Principal Investigator, and Head of Department in UCL STEaPP, Professor Joanna Chataway will lead the team’s work on the themes of COVID-19 Recovery and Inequality. Co-investigator Professor Sir Geoff Mulgan, Professor of Collective Intelligence, Social Innovation and Public Policy in UCL STEaPP, will lead IPPO’s work on Net Zero, and Levelling Up and Cities.

“I am thrilled that IPPO is able to consolidate its knowledge synthesis work to inform public policy across a range of areas,” says Jo Chataway.

“We look forward to working with a wide range of policy and research organisations to improve the use of evidence and knowledge in policy development and implementation.”

In its second phase, IPPO will also enhance the role of its partners in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to ensure closer relationships with policymakers in each of the UK’s four nations. In addition, IPPO will continue its communications partnership with the academic news publisher The Conversation to support its visibility with the wider research community and support all engagement activities.

The International Network of Government Science Advisors (INGSA) will remain IPPO’s international partner and use their global network of science advisors to bring policy practitioner experience to inform and complement other forms of evidence.

In addition, there will be a stream of work on science advice and how this is evolving post-pandemic. This will be achieved via three international roundtable discussions to consider how evidence and science advice informs policy in different national contexts.

These roundtables will develop insights on how science diplomacy and other mechanisms might be developed to improve policy learning and transfer.

Sarah Chaytor, Director of Strategy and Policy at UCL, will join IPPO as its Strategic Engagement Director, to direct IPPO’s strategic engagement and focus on the intersections between IPPO’s thematic areas and how they link into other ESRC/UKRI investments and the broader evidence eco-system.

Since its launch in 2020, IPPO’s work has extended from assessing the impact of the closure of schools on pupils, parents and carers, to understanding how we can better manage the growing global mental health crisis exacerbated by the pandemic and build on our understanding of the role and mobilisation of volunteers during emergencies.

IPPO’s achievements in Phase 1 include:

  • Facilitating regular high-level roundtable discussions concerning the pandemic between policymakers, think tanks, academic bodies, and other third-sector organisations.
  • Facilitating knowledge exchange with government officials from across the United Kingdom to discuss policy concerning the pandemic.
  • Establishing a partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies to launch the
  • IPPO Cities project that focuses on the effects of the pandemic on urban centres around the world.
  • Launching a collaboration between the universities of Bristol, Edinburgh and Manchester and the UK Health Security Agency to fill social science research gaps related to the current monkeypox outbreak. 
  • Organising and delivering reviews of evidence on education (funded by the Department for Education), NHS Staff Wellbeing, Volunteering during the Pandemic, Basic Income Experiments, and Scaling Up Effective Mental Health Interventions, and others.

These and all other published reviews can be accessed on the EPPI-Centre website.

The first phase of IPPO’s work will conclude on 31 December 2022, and recommence on 1 January 2023 for a period of two years.