Policy Brief

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  • Topic: 2007–2008 world food price crisis, Policy, Report
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WrItIng effectIve rePorts
4.1 Preparing policy briefs

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4.2 More reporting formats 4.3 Writing effectively

Lesson 4.1: Preparing policy briefs

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Learning objectives
At the end of this lesson, you will be able to:  identify two types of policy briefs (advocacy and objective);  describe the characteristics of a policy brief;  describe the structure and contents of a policy brief; and  conceptualize a policy brief about a food security issue.

Introduction
In this lesson we will take a close look at policy briefs and learn how to produce them.

What are policy briefs?
A policy brief is a concise summary of a particular issue, the policy options to deal with it, and some recommendations on the best option. It is aimed at government policymakers and others who are interested in formulating or influencing policy. Policy briefs can take different formats. A typical format is a single A4 sheet (210 x 297 mm), containing perhaps 700 words. It has an attractive design, and may have one or more photograph. Longer briefs (up to 8 pages, or 3,000 words) and other formats are also possible.

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Food Security Communications Toolkit

Examples of policy briefs
Here are some examples of policy briefs from different organizations:

Braun, J. von, and M. Torero. 2008. Physical and virtual global food reserves to protect the poor and prevent market failure. IFPRI Policy Brief 4. International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC. www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/publications/ bp004.pdf

FAO. 2005. Strengthening sustainable agricultural and rural enterprises. SARD Brief 3. SARD-Farming Systems Evolution project. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome. www.fao.org/sard/common/ecg/2461/en/SARD_Brief_3.pdf

EC - FAO Food Security Information for Action Programme, Food Security in Protracted Crises: What can be done?, Policy Brief, December 2008 ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/ fao/011/ak057e/ak057e00.pdf

INMASP and FAO. 2006. Farmer field schools on land and water management: An extension approach that works. INMASP and FAO Pilot Project on Land and Water Management through Farmer Field Schools. Jinja, Uganda. www.mamud.com/Docs/ ffslwm_policy_brief.pdf

NCCR North-South. 2009. Natural resources: The climate change challenge. Evidence for Policy 4. NCCR, University of Bern, Switzerland. www.cde.unibe.ch/userfiles/file/NCCR_ Policy_Brief_Climate_Change.pdf

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ODI. 2008. Rising food prices: A global crisis. Briefing paper 37. Overseas Development Institute, London. www.odi.org.uk/resources/download/1009.pdf

Lesson 4.1: Preparing policy briefs

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ODI. 2008. Rising food prices: Cause for concern. Natural Resource Perspectives 115. Overseas Development Institute, London. www.odi.org.uk/resources/download/1896.pdf

UNAIDS. 2008. HIV, food security and nutrition. UNAIDS Policy Brief. http://data.unaids. org/pub/Manual/2008/jc1515a_policybrief_nutrition_en.pdf \

Types of policy briefs
There are two basic types of policy briefs:  an advocacy brief argues in favour of a particular course of action.  an objective brief gives balanced information for the policymaker to make up his or her mind.

Advocacy brief Argues in favour of a particular course of action

Objective brief Gives balanced information for policy maker to make up his or her mind

Farmer field schools on land and water management: An extension approach that works (INMASP and FAO 2006) This policy brief urges Uganda’s government to adopt a particular approach to farmers’ education

Rising food prices: Cause for concern (Overseas Development Institute, 2008) This policy brief presents some problems caused by rising food prices, and suggests ways policymakers might respond

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Food Security Communications Toolkit

What should a policy brief do?
A policy brief should:  Provide enough background for the reader to understand the problem.  Convince the reader that...
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