INGSA is a collaborative platform for policy exchange, capacity building and research across diverse global science advisory organizations and national systems. Through workshops, conferences and a growing catalogue of tools and guidance, the network aims to enhance the global science-policy interface to improve the potential for evidence-informed policy formation at both national and transnational levels

INGSA operates under the auspices of the International Council for Science (www.icsu.org), which acts as trustee of INGSA funds and hosts its governance committee. INGSA’s secretariat is based in the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor in New Zealand (www.pmcsa.org.nz).

Mission

The mission of the International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA) is to provide a forum for policy makers, practitioners, national academies, and academics to share experience, build capacity and develop theoretical and practical approaches to the use of scientific evidence in informing policy at all levels of government.

Its primary focus is on the place of science in public policy formation rather than advice on the structure and governance of public science and innovation systems.

It operates through:

  • Exchanging lessons, evidence and new concepts through conferences, workshops and a website;
  • Collaborating with other organisations where there are common or overlapping interests;
  • Assisting the development of advisory systems through capacity-building workshops;
  • Producing articles and discussion papers based on comparative research into the science and art of scientific advice.

Operational Principles

INGSA is committed to diversity, recognizing the multiple cultures and structures of governance and policy development. It is not intended to lobby for, or endorse, any particular form or structure of science advice to governments. We have been called on as informal advisors by the European Commission and by officials from several countries, and have been clear that our role is about improving the use of evidence in informing public policy, not about specific policies for science and research systems.

As a loosely-knit association of individuals and organisations with interests in both the theory and practice of science advice, it is expected that the network will be shaped and reshaped over time according to the arising needs and interests of INGSA affiliates. Working groups are developed to take on targeted projects such as workshop planning and development of publications and other resource materials.

History

INGSA is the product of converging conversations, complementary ideas and parallel policy innovations. In 2012, a Nature commentary by Doubleday and Wilsdon struck a timely chord for many working at the Science-Policy interface. For Steven Wilson, then the Executive Director of the International Council for Science (ICSU), it was a call to action and he asked Sir Peter Gluckman, Chief Science Advisor in New Zealand to chair a working group to have an initial meeting on the issue in conjunction with the 2014 ICSU congress in Auckland, NZ. Together they assembled some of the world’s preeminent thought leaders – academics and practitioners – in the emerging field of science advice to government to develop an agenda for global discussion. The result was the Science Advice to Governments international conference held in Auckland NZ at the end of August 2014.

Attended by high level practitioners, academics, students and government officials alike, this conference made accessible key debates in the practice of science advice in a way that other global fora have not done. Over 40 countries were represented by over 220 delegates from all regions of the world, together with representatives of key international organisations. A full video record of the two day event is available here, and publications and guest blogs by participants are also available.

The Auckland conference ended with a resounding call for the formation of a network to continue discussion and promote the exchange of ideas and experiences, particularly in key areas such as:

Critical analysis of the variety of mechanisms for science advice (both formal and informal), taking into account local contexts, cultures and histories;

  • Capacity building for science advice, especially in developing economies;
  • Science advice and the role of practitioners in the context of crises and emergencies;
  • Planning for joint events and activities internationally.

In response, the conference steering committee was expanded, diversified and re-cast as a Network Development Group. Now known as the Advisory Panel, members bring a wealth of knowledge and experience as well as strong links into a variety of scientific and policy communities within and across jurisdictions globally.