A rough guide to science advice
As scientists and policymakers gather in Auckland for a global summit on scientific advice, what lessons can we identify that apply across diverse national systems?
Scientific advice has never been in greater demand; nor has it been more contested. From climate change to cyber-security, poverty to pandemics, food technologies to fracking, the questions being asked of scientists, engineers and other experts by policymakers, the media and the wider public continue to multiply. At the same time, the authority and legitimacy of experts is under increasing scrutiny, particularly in areas that spark intense debate, such as climate change, energy choices and genetically modified crops.
The Auckland conference on science advice to governments comes at an important time. Across many countries and international institutions, the arrangements and methods for scientific advice and evidence-informed policymaking are being actively debated, and in some cases, new structures are being established. In recent years, New Zealand and the European Commission are among those to have appointed their first chief scientific advisors; at an international level, fresh expert assessments are underway, such as IPBES (the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services); and new scientific advisory committees have been established, for example within the United Nations system.