Scientific Advice in a Troubled World

SCIENTIFIC ADVICE IN A TROUBLED WORLD[1]

Sir Peter Gluckman

Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

Chair, International Network of Government Science Advice

University Distinguished Professor, University of Auckland

January 31 2017

Introduction

Most of us would hopefully accept that governments will make better decisions if they use well-developed evidence wisely. At the same time however, evidence can be ignored, manipulated or even falsely constructed for particular ends. The ability for misleading information to become the basis of political advocacy, strategy and policy making is not new but it has now become much more apparent and is creating great concern. Nor is this a crisis of knowledge or expertise as some would argue. Rather, what has changed is the nature, speed and pervasiveness of communication and the ease with which individuals can themselves generate and transmit information, whether it is true, altered or false.

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Call for applications: South American Government Science Advice Workshop

Applications are now open for an INGSA workshop designed for scientists and policy practitioners living or working in South America to enhance capacities in providing science advice for policymaking at all levels of government.

The workshop is planned for the last week of June 2017 and will bring together 60 (emerging and established) scientists and policy practitioners and key stakeholders for a dialogue on models of science advice, and promising practices for working at the interface between science and policy, and will form a basis for a network of science advice stakeholders in South America.

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The International Development Research Centre and The International Council for Science to collaborate on building capacity for science advice in the developing world

The International Council for Science (ICSU) has received a 3 year grant on behalf of INGSA from The International Development Research Centre in Canada to deliver a programme of work on “Effective science advice for governments in the developing world.” The provision of science advice for public policy is one of the fastest growing areas of public science endeavours.

In a three year agreement signed between the two agencies earlier this month, IDRC has committed to support INGSA’s work with countries in the Global South to help develop and/or strengthen advisory skills and mechanisms. Specifically the project aims to:

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What is required to build capacity for science advice in developing countries?

We are happy to begin a partnership with the International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA), an organization that has made great strides in understanding and changing the dynamics of science advice. This is particularly important in the developing world, where there is a continued need to strengthen both the “supply” and the “demand” sides of the science advice coin. Drawing on our experience and perspectives at Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), I would like to underscore four key areas for action. These relate to individual capacity, organizational capacity, science communication skills, and the overall science and innovation ecosystem that supports science advice.

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Scientists, innovators discuss incorporating scientific advice into policymaking

From the Jordan Times writer Dana Al Emam on the 1st Arab Leadership Dialogue on Science Advice to Government held in partnership with INGSA December 13-14 2016.

HRH Princess Sumaya with participants in the first Arab Leadership Dialogue on Science Advice to Governments at the Dead Sea on Tuesday (Photo courtesy of CRDF Global)

DEAD SEA — Incorporating evidence-based scientific advice into sustainable policymaking helps in better addressing local and regional challenges as well as leveraging growth and prosperity, scientists and experts agreed.

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INGSA Wins SFSA Diplomacy Award

During the Science Forum South Africa 2016 closing session on December 9th South Africa’s Minister of Science and Technology, Minister Naledi Pandor, awarded INGSA the Science Forum South Africa 2016 Science Diplomacy Award, in the category for an international STI partnership, which has made an outstanding contribution to harnessing scientific advice for multilateral decision-making.

Dr Heide Hackman, Executive Director of the International Council for Science and executive member INGSA, accepted the award on behalf of INGSA along with Dr Tolu Oni, steering committee member of INGSA-Africa. INGSA is honoured to receive this prestigious award and look forward to furthering our activity with a growing membership in the African region.

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Principles and Guidelines of Science Advice

INGSA hosted a Workshop on Principles & Guidelines for Government Scientific Advice held on September 28, 2016, ahead of its biennial summit. The workshop was facilitated by INGSA vice chair, Prof James Wilsdon and Prof Dan Sarewitz from Arizona State University. It included approximately 40 experts from 20 nations, with additional input from the Global Young Academy. Read the Global Young Academy’s workshop report on Broadening the scope of science advice: Engaging knowledge-creators beyond the academy. The charge to the workshop attendees originates from Article 4 of the Declaration on the Enabling Power of Science of the 2015 Budapest World Science Forum.

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Call for applications for South American INGSA workshop

With UNESCO and South American partners including the Ministry of Science and Technology Argentina and the Ministry for External Relations Chile, INGSA is designing a workshop for scientists and policy practitioners living or working in South America to enhance capacities in providing science advice for policymaking at all levels of government.

The workshop is being planned for Buenos Aires in the last week of June 2017. It will bring together 60 (emerging and established) scientists and policy practitioners and key stakeholders for a dialogue on models of science advice, and promising practices for working at the interface between science and policy, and will form a basis for a network of science advice stakeholders in South America.

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Small Island Developing States – Pacific

In partnership with UNESCO, INGSA is planning a meeting in Apia, Samoa in late March with representatives from Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to assess the needs and options for bridging the gaps between science and policy-making in the Pacific SIDS, in the framework of the challenges of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This preliminary meeting will provide an opportunity for dialogue amongst the Pacific SIDS representatives and international organisations about the ways in which science advice mechanisms – both national and regional – could be put in place in the region.

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AAAS Boston

For those planning to attend the AAAS Annual Meeting, 16-20 February 2017 in Boston, USA, we encourage you to participate in the INGSA-led session on Scientific advice to governments: can we agree a set of global principles?
Around the world, there are many different models for bringing scientific evidence and expertise into policymaking. Some governments appoint scientific advisors, others use expert committees, or draw on their national academies, most governments combine these and other modalities, depending on need and context. In respecting and valuing this diversity, can we also develop a set of universal principles for scientific advice?

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