Strengthening domestic evidence-support systems | Global Commission on Evidence to Address Societal Challenges

2023 McMaster University
Published: 16 March 2023
Last edited: 16 March 2023
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To formalize and strengthen domestic evidence-support systems, the Evidence Commission’s secretariat and partners in 12 countries are conducting rapid evidence-support system assessments, or RESSAs, and sharing lessons learned through the RESSA Country Leads Group. The goal in each country is to identify what is going well that needs to be systematized and scaled up, and what gaps should be prioritized to fill, and to work with government policymakers, organizational leaders, professionals and citizens to push for improvements. Conducting a RESSA starts with an understanding of what a domestic evidence-support system is and how it differs from research and innovation systems (see Pic1; Link1, p.6). Drawing on websites, documents and interviews, a RESSA involves asking questions (see Link1, p.6-7) about each of the potential features of an evidence-support system (see Pic2 – shown in light green), as a baseline, and taking action based on what is learned.


East Asia
East and South Africa
North America
North Europe
South America
Scale of implementation
Connective infrastructure, networks and corridors
Urban ecosystem and build environment
One Health
Science and research
One Health
Health related aspects of socio-economic factors such as poverty, education, social security structures, digitalisation, financing systems, human capacity development 
Changes in socio-cultural context
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 2 – Zero hunger
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 4 – Quality education
SDG 5 – Gender equality
SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation
SDG 7 – Affordable and clean energy
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure
SDG 10 – Reduced inequalities
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 14 – Life below water
SDG 15 – Life on land
SDG 16 – Peace, justice and strong institutions
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals
Aichi targets
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge


Hamilton, Ontario, Canada | Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Ireland, Israel, Lebanon, South Africa, United Kingdom (Scotland)


Based on a total of 39 currently active RESSAs underway (representing a mix of national, subnational and sectoral foci across 12 countries), we see that most countries include few of the features of an evidence-support system, and even fewer are working optimally, especially when crises emerge. Examples of the types of things we are hearing from the RESSAs are provided (see Pic2 – shown in light grey). See also a documented (and sector-specific) example of a RESSA in the Canadian context (see Link2), and a list of country leads (see Link3). In terms of the actions underway at the country-level, on the demand side, there are emerging examples such as the legislative requirements for transparency in evidence inputs as is required now in Australia’s New South Wales. On the evidence-supply side, a number of innovations have emerged including: 1) ultra-rapid evidence support, which can now work with the same speed as policy processes; 2) evidence-supply coordination that can leverage all needed forms of evidence; 3) one-stop shops of evidence syntheses that can help with the global evidence; and 4) ‘living’ evidence syntheses that allow for the best available evidence to be monitored as the context, issue and evidence evolve.

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John Lavis McMaster Health Forum

Other contributors

McMaster Health Forum
Instituto Veredas
South Africa Centre for Evidence NPC
Knowledge to Policy (K2P) Center
Evidence-Based Social Science Research Center, Lanzhou University
Monash University