Interview: Marcela Tarazona, EEG Programme Director
What is your role on EEG?
My role is to set both the strategic direction of the programme and then to be responsible for its delivery.
I am accountable for translating the needs of the funder (DFID) into the design of the programme, ensuring these also match the needs of policy makers and civil society at a country and global level. We have designed EEG with policy maker and civil society demands at its heart – with a strong focus on achieving policy impact. All research will have academic rigour but we are aiming for it to be timely and responsive; providing solutions for policy makers and ultimately affecting behaviour change - as well as changing conceptual thinking on this topic.
I oversee the core team at OPM who bring energy expertise, programme and project management, as well as research uptake and communications. Then we have an extended global network of people who focus on the research production and dissemination. This includes thought leaders with insight into the core needs of policy makers, which gives us all a reality check to keep the programme focused on real world demands.
How has your previous career led you to this role?
I feel that both my academic and professional life has led me to this programme; bringing together academia, applied research and a focus on policy makers who are making decisions about energy and economic growth in low income countries.
My PhD was in economics and I worked with economists, then I joined researchers working in applied research and undertook research in field settings for several years. Following this I transferred out of full time academia to roles at the Inter-American Development Bank and then the World Bank, I really enjoyed advising policy makers and understanding their perspective. Looking back it is clear now that these different experiences have led me to EEG - running a programme that is academically driven but is designed to meet real world needs.
What have been EEG's biggest achievements so far?
I am proud that EEG has already involved some of the world’s best academics; identifying the gaps that need to be addressed in this field of research. We did this alongside a parallel process to identify the needs of countries and regions, and now have a programme which responds to those priorities.
What excites you about the programme?
We’ve brought together the world’s best thinkers on the subject of energy and economic growth to solve real life problems. Access to energy sources is fundamental to so many lives, and sustainable economic growth is fundamental to the health of countries across the world. The long-term potential of EEG to make tangible differences to developing economies and people’s lives is really exciting.
What are its greatest challenges?
Academic research doesn’t always respond to the needs of policy makers and donors, it can take a long time until it influences the policy cycle. Policy makers are dealing with urgent needs. We have addressed this with a programme which has identified policy makers requirements first and used them to determine the focus of our research. This motivation and incentive is different to a more traditional academic focus.
What is your immediate focus?
We are applying our research programme to three selected countries and are working on the design of these research programmes now - as well as designing the global research programme. We have a call for proposals for research coming very soon which will be an important step for us.
The research and management team behind EEG.