The geosciences are currently used by policymakers in a wide variety of areas to help guide the decision-making process and ensure that the best possible outcome is achieved. While the importance of scientific advice and the use of evidence in the policymaking process is generally acknowledged by both policymakers and scientists, how scientific advice is integrated and who is responsible is still unclear.
EU Policymakers frequently highlight institutionalised processes for integrating scientific advice into policy such as European Commission's Group of Chief Scientific Advisors (SAM) and the EU Commission’s Register of Expert Groups. But how efficient and accessible are these mechanisms really?
Some emphasise the need for scientists to have their own policy networks in place so that they can share their research outcomes with policymakers who can then use it directly or pass it on to those responsible for relevant legislation. But from funding applications to teaching and even outreach activities – scientists are often already overloaded with additional tasks on top of their own research. Can they really be held responsible for keeping up with the latest policy news and maintaining a constantly changing network of policymakers as well?
This debate will feature a mixed panel of policymakers and geoscientists who have previously given scientific advice. Some key questions that the panel will debate include:
• How can the accessibility of current EU science-advisory mechanisms be improved?
• Are scientists doing enough to share their research?
• And who is responsible for ensuring that quality scientific evidence is used in policymaking?
Speakers will be encouraged to explain any science advisory mechanism that they highlight (e.g. SAM) to ensure that the debate is understood by all those in attendance.
While the panel and subsequent debate will have an EU focus, it is likely that many of the issues discussed will be applicable to countries around the world.
David Mair: Head of Unit, Knowledge for Policy: Concepts & Methods, Joint Research Centre
Paul Watkinson: Chair of SBSTA (Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice)
Kasey White: Director for Geoscience Policy, Geological Society of America
Günter Blöschl: Head of Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Engineering Hydrology, Vienna University of Technology
Detlef van Vuuren: Professor in Integrated Assessment of Global Environmental Change at the Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University