Conference navigates gap between science and government

From Science writer Michaela Jarvis.  More than 600 professionals from the worlds of science and politics converged in Brussels late last month to mine internationally accumulated expertise on how best to connect scientific evidence with government decision-making. Infectious disease outbreaks, humanitarian crises, the use of genetically modified crops, climate change, and other pressing issues will all require the input of scientists, speakers said. Read more here

If the principles of responsibility, integrity, independence and accountability are the answer, then what was the question?

INGSA Guest Blog from Dr. Marc Saner

I had the privilege to be the rapporteur at the Workshop on Principles & Guidelines for Government Scientific Advice held on September 28, 2016 and to report the results to the plenary of the 2nd INGSA Conference two days later.  The workshop was facilitated by James Wilsdon and Dan Sarewitz and included approximately 40 experts from 20 nations, with additional input from the Global Young Academy. I offer here observations from the rapporteur’s vantage point.

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A theory of principles for science advisors

Guest blog from Dr Heather Douglas

On Wednesday Sept. 28, science advisors and scholars of science advice met to address the challenges of articulating principles for science advice, principles that would be applicable across institutional contexts and political cultures.  The World Science Forum at Budapest in November 2015 framed the challenge in a “call for concerted action of scientists and policy-makers to define and promulgate universal principles for developing and communicating science to inform and evaluate policy based on responsibility, integrity, independence, and accountability.” (World Science Forum 2015)  As the declaration from the forum noted, “the independence, transparency, visibility and accountability of those who receive and provide advice has never been more important.”  (ibid.)

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Call for Papers from Global Strategy Lab

Posted on behalf of the University of Ottawa’s Global Strategy Lab (GSL)

Optimizing the Institutional Design of Scientific Advisory Committees for Quality, Salience, and Legitimacy

It is almost self-evident that scientific evidence is relevant and important for decisions about many of the most pressing policy challenges of the day. As a result, governments and other policy actors continuously seek scientific advice, and scientific advisory committees (SACs) now figure prominently. These often come with the promise of bringing scientific evidence to bear on identifying and assessing the options available to governments. New committees are constantly being created, and old ones reformed. Yet, there is only sparse and scattered knowledge about what features of these committees make them effective. This means that today’s SACs are probably not performing their function as effectively as possible and that attempts to reform existing SACs may not be as successful as might be hoped.

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Opening up

Craig Nicholson interviews INGSA Chair, Sir Peter Gluckman for Research Europe.

Meeting in a backroom of the Joint Research Centre headquarters in Brussels, Peter Gluckman, New Zealand’s chief scientific adviser, takes issue with his title. He prefers to consider himself an adviser on the use of science in policymaking, he says. “We’re not giving the technical advice, but helping with its interpretation.” READ MORE ON PAGE 6

Principles of science advice to government: key problems and feasible solutions

Guest blog from Paul Cairney: Politics & Public Policy 

Q: can we design principles of science advice to government to be universal, exhaustive, coherent, clearly defined, and memorable?

If not, we need to choose between these requirements. So, who should get to choose and what should their criteria be?

I provide six scenarios to help us make clear choices between trade-offs. Please enjoy the irony of a 2000-word post calling for a small number of memorable heuristics.

In 2015, the World Science Forum declared the value of scientific advice to government and called for a set of principles to underpin the conduct of people giving that advice, based on the principles including transparency, visibility, responsibility, integrity, independence, and accountability. INGSA is taking this recommendation forward, with initial discussions led by Peter Gluckman, James Wilsdon and Daniel Sarewitz and built on many existing documents outlining those principles, followed by consultation and key contributions from people like Heather Douglas and Marc Saner. Here is Marc Saner summing up the pre-conference workshop:

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partner organisations

Dr Heide Hackmann – Executive Director of ICSU, INGSA chair Sir Peter Gluckman and Dr Flavia Schlegel – Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences of UNESCO signing the partnership agreement in Brussels

The International Council for Science (ICSU) and UNESCO have formalised a partnership on one of the fastest growing areas of public science endeavor – the provision of science advice for public policy. Read the full unesco-and-icsu-media-release.

2016 INGSA Conference Opening: Science-Policy Interface


Welcome to the INGSA 2016 2nd International Conference. Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, INGSA chair, has launched the conference with a focus on the multiple dimensions and challenges of the science-policy interface.

A great start to encourage an engaging and interactive conference. The conference has been jointly organised by the European Commission and the International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA), to bring together users and providers of scientific advice on critical, global issues.

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