Science and the fight against poverty: How far have we come in 20 years and what's next?


As the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) marks 20 years of its work in the fight against poverty, this two-day colloquium will bring together J-PAL co-founders Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee, alongside researchers, policymakers, social innovators, funders and the general public at the Collège de France in Paris to explore the role of evidence in shaping development and social policy to alleviate poverty in a variety of contexts. With all of these actors gathered together, the colloquium will serve as a space to celebrate progress, identify and disseminate best practices and take stock of the work still to be done to address global challenges like climate change.

This colloquium serves as the culmination of the first year of J-PAL co-founder and director Esther Duflo’s chair position in ‘Poverty and public policy‘ at the Collège de France, which she has used to explore the progression of the global effort to develop and mainstream evidence-based policy. Ultimately, this event will seek to chart the path forward for policymaking informed by rigorous research on a global level and continue J-PAL’s work of advocating for innovative, cost-effective solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

The colloquium will take place across two days, with the following agenda:

Thursday 22 June

Panel discussions and presentations will focus on J-PAL’s work in France, Spain, and other research and policy partnerships across Europe.

  • Opening remarks - Esther Duflo (J-PAL)

Morning: Building a hub for experimental research and evidence-based policy-making in France

  • Opening address - Bruno Le Maire (French minister of economics, finance and industrial and digital sovereignty)
  • Advances in experimental education research in France - Charline Avenel (Academy of Versailles), Axelle Charpentier (French ministry of education) and Marc Gurgand (PSE)
  • Social protection and employment efforts in France - Martin Hirsch (former high commissioner for Active Solidarity against Poverty), Bruno Crépon (CREST) and Cyril Nouveau (Pôle Emploi)

Afternoon: Investments in Social Policy in Europe

  • Panel discussion: J-PAL’s work in Spain - Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration José Luis Escrivá, Abhijit Banerjee (J-PAL, MIT), Samuel Bentolila (CEMFI) and Mónica Martínez Bravo (CEMFI)
  • Presentations: How to promote social inclusion in Europe, by Sule Alan (EUI), Eliana La Ferrara (Harvard Kennedy School) and George Richards (Community Jameel)

Friday 23 June

The focus will be devoted to global poverty reduction challenges and the role of evidence-driven innovation in development.

  • Opening remarks - Abhijit Banerjee (J-PAL)

Morning: Placing evidence and innovation at the heart of development policy

  • Reflections on 20 years of research and evidence use - Rukmini Banerji (CEO, Pratham) and Rachel Glennerster (University of Chicago; J-PAL’s first executive director).
  • How to think about the social return on investments in research and innovation - Michael Kremer (University of Chicago).
  • Highlights: The impact and progress of the Fund for Innovation in Development (FID) and USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures Fund (DIV) - Hervé Berville (French Secretary of State for the Sea), Sasha Gallant (DIV), and Juliette Seban (FID).
  • Panel discussion: How development cooperation has been transformed by the increase in rigorous evidence - Dean Karlan (Northwestern University; USAID), Arianna Legovini, (World Bank), Thomas Melonio, (Agence française de développement, AFD) and Charlotte Watts (British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office FCDO)

Afternoon: Addressing global challenges

Collège de France, Paris
Watch livestream


Esther Duflo

Co-founder and co-director, Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL)

Abhijit Banerjee

Co-founder and co-director, Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL)

Bruno Le Maire

Minister of economics, finance and industrial and digital sovereignty, France

Rukmini Banerji

CEO, Pratham Education Foundation

Rémy Rioux

CEO, Agence française de développement

Hervé Berville

Secretary of state for the sea, France

George Richards

Director, Community Jameel



No items found.

With representatives from

About the event