The recent ThinkForest event on the Role of Science in Supporting Policymaking assembled a group of policymakers and scientists to better understand how a combined understanding of what is needed from both sides to move towards a climate-neutral and nature-positive economy.
Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries described the active collaboration between the European Commission and the scientific community, with projects such as H2020. This project counts with its own Joint Research Centre, and the Knowledge Centre on Bioeconomy, which are developing innovative technologies. “Changes are happening fast and the policy needs to be followed together with our monitoring tools. New challenges are reflected in our research priorities and we are doing more to put this research into practice and to facilitate the uptake of scientific advice”, he said.
Pippa Hackett, Irish Minister of State for Land use and Biodiversity shared her views as a woodland owner herself. Hackett understands the need for evidence-based decision making and science-policy dialogue, while also emphasizing the importance of involving the general public.
Director General of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, Stephen Quest described some of the difficulties in organizing science-policy collaboration, such as selecting the right researchers, synthesizing the information, and managing policymakers’ expectations.
The panel discussed some of the wide-ranging issues that surround the complex scientific information, the breakdown of the data, and the necessity of transparent advisors. When the information is so finely selected to fit a certain policy without acknowledging the rest, the integrity of science is risked.
Formal structures such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) can provide guidance and set an example through its efficient process for collaboration between scientists and policy makers, and techniques like systematic reviews. Policy makers have important positions and strengths that should be taken into account for the multi-disciplinary process.