INGSA2021 - Build Back Wiser: Knowledge, Policy, and Publics in Dialogue

Hybrid Conference - Online and In-Person: 30 August – 2 September 2021

Registrations and Call for Abstracts now open at:

Humanity’s greatest societal, technological and political challenges are exposed at the intersection of science and policy, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made them even more visible.

From increasing epistemic risk to decreasing public trust in institutions and expertise, many complex and interrelated threats have been accelerated by the virus in the context of rapid digitalisation, social inequalities, and political polarisation. This is shifting the theory and practice of science advice to governments.

There is no singular future trajectory for the field, but a multiplicity of possible pathways which address the diverse contexts and the dramatic shifts in the relationship between science, policy and civil society.

The INGSA2021 conference will be a 4-day interactive hybrid conference, hosted by the Chief Scientist of Quebec, in collaboration with the Chief Science Advisor of Canada. We expect that most delegates will have to join digitally and that only Canadian participants will be able to join the conference in person, due to ongoing travel restrictions.

The conference will be an opportunity to examine the direct and indirect lessons from the pandemic, while looking to the future for the global community as we build back wiser.



Promise and Pandemic: Reshaping Science Advice

The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed a lot about evidence-informed advising globally. We have seen established institutions fail, while new and ad hoc efforts show promise. What structural changes might be needed at different levels? What does ‘inclusive science advice’ look like? Is it even possible? In what ways does context matter?

Foresight and Resilience: From SDGs to Emerging Technologies 

Long before Covid-19 changed our lives and livelihoods, the challenges of unexamined digitalisation, climate chaos and biodiversity loss, to name a few, posed significant collective risks. Their drivers are multiple, interacting, and now entangled with pandemic effects.  So too are their impacts. How can science advice help to ensure preparedness – not just for crises, but for all of the societal transitions that sustainable development demands? Is a new kind of science advice is needed?

Evidence and Democracy: Sustaining Trust in a Challenging World

Science advice, no matter how inclusive, well-organised and ably-delivered, increasingly struggles with misinformation and mistrust.  Yet its role in democracies seems more crucial than ever. What practices and principles should underpin trust and legitimacy in science advice? How can deliberative and other democratic processes better cope with uncertain knowledge, coupled with the need for speed?


Official Conference Website: - Registrations and Call for Abstracts now open!

INGSA would like to thank the INGSA2021 Programme Committee, that has been supporting the development of the conference despite a year of disruptions

INGSA Global Week of Dialogue on Science Advice and COVID-19

In place of the original September 2020 conference, INGSA hosted a Global Week of Dialogue - a suite of events on initial lessons from the pandemic and focused on the interface of science and policy and on science diplomacy.

The event features some of the global experts at the front line of the health and information battle against COVID-19, including:

  • a keynote Q&A with Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist at the WHO;
  • a high-level panel featuring science advice practitioners advising on the COVID-19 response;
  • regional discussion panels for Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas
  • And a special event panel with representatives of the UN

To watch any of these sessions or for more information see the Global Week of Dialogue site.


Launch of INGSA COVID Information Portal

And as part of INGSA's wider project on science advice in emergencies - we have established to serve as a hub of information and resources about the science and policy interface of the epidemic, as it occurs globally and in individual jurisdictions. We encourage all members to see the site and to consider how they might contribute to the effort.
To be clear, this website is not intended as a hub of information about epidemiology, medical or virology expertise. Rather is about the processes of mobilising evidence, providing evidence-informed advice to decision-makers, and coordinating advice and action across jurisdictions and globally.
We expect there to be many lessons and insights on global and jurisdictional pandemic responses to share by September and we intend now to engage the INGSA membership in preparing and launching this event.
Specifically, we will be publishing relevant blogs and thought pieces from global experts on the website between now and September.  As of today, we are also launching a major effort to collect and track national and sub-national pandemic response policies and actions for comparative analysis.  We will be reaching out to the network for collaborators in this project and will be presenting verified data in real time on a policy-tracker tool on the website.  This and other analysis will be presented at the September online conference, along with the opportunity to engage relevant experts in real-time Q&A.
These are unprecedented times globally, but they are precisely what the INGSA network is all about. Already, the INGSA network has assisted several countries in linking expertise and we continue to play that networking role where we are requested by governments to do so.  However, the true value of a network such as this is to share lessons that will assist in systemically strengthening the science and policy interface in institutions across the globe.
We thank the INGSA membership for continued engagement.  We invite you to join us in preparation for the INGSA2020-COVID in September and in person in September 2021.  In the meantime, stay healthy, take care of each other, and wash your hands!


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Thanks and we hope to see you at INGSA2021 in Montréal!