Last week I attended the inaugural meeting of the key partners for CECAN, the Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity across the Nexus. For those who know several nexii, this one is where energy, water, environment and food intertwine.

The range and quality of people contributing to the work of the Centre is dazzling – I am looking forward to shuttling between academics, evaluation practitioners and commissioners and government analysts and policy professionals. A fascinating time is guaranteed in helping to glue the whole together in a productive way and getting to a point where all are, if not always speaking the same language, then understanding each other well.

A common view from those at the meeting was that some of the excitement around complexity can be a little overcooked – we have to be very careful about using evidence and analysis all the time, not just faced with complexity.

This is a conclusion that reflects the chapter I co-published recently with Paul Cairney, which is described here.

There is a good chance that, as well as making great strides forward in the complexity side of evaluation and policy analysis, a much broader benefit will also emerge from a sensitising users of evidence in government to the great possibilities, as well as the elephant traps, of a little more evidence underpinning strategy.

And in closing, I should add that the plural of nexus is not nexii, it is the far more ugly word nexuses or simply nexus, the same as the singular. There is a deeply classical reason for why it is not nexii (or nexi): you may wish to use Google to try and understand it.

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