On 9 September 2021, the JRC (Joint Research Centre) and COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) will jointly organise a satellite event at the upcoming INGSA (International Network for Government Science Advice) Conference: ‘Build back wiser: knowledge, policy and publics in dialogue’.
During the global COVID-19 pandemic scientific advice for policymakers was in high demand and arguably more visible to citizens than outside times of crises.
Before the pandemic, certain scientists engaging with policymaking faced criticism for a lack of independence, sometimes legitimately as part of democratic scrutiny, sometimes to delegitimise their input over inflated claims of conflicts of interest or political colouring.
Accusations of personal interests driving some scientific advisers intensified during the pandemic, further complicating the already complex task of collective sense-making of the situation. Both sides, scientists and policymakers, had to defend themselves against the suspicion of “bending” the science to fit political needs.
However, perhaps less expected, the public discourse also shed light on the other side of that equation. Politicians and other policy makers suddenly found themselves criticised for allegedly blindly following scientific advisers’ suggestions, and allegations of countries being run by virologists instead of democratically elected politicians surfaced.
Therefore, the issue of independence in science advice may now be more salient than ever before, and will be further explored during this satellite session by addressing the following questions:
- What are the ‘do’s and don’ts’ for scientists engaging in policy advice and for policymakers receiving such advice?
- How do the different perspectives and interests of public servants, politicians and scientists influence the credibility and independence of science evidence?
- What needs to be the responsibility of policymakers, what of scientists?
- How to avoid (the perception of) conflicts of interest?
We invite you to join this lively and interactive exchange between our highly experienced panel members with complementary areas of expertise on the topic. We look forward to welcoming participants from all sides of the science-policy interface, including professionals from EU, national and international administrations, think tanks, knowledge management functions, academia, research support and funding organisations.
Dr. Sara Basart, Chair of the InDust COST Action
Dr. Jan-Marco Müller, Science & Technology Advisor at European External Action Service
Prof. David Budtz Pedersen,Chair of the COST Cross-Cutting Activity (CCA) on Science Communication
Date: 9 September, 12-13:30h (CET)
Sara BASART is a researcher in the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC). Her main research background covers the atmospheric composition and air quality modelling and their effects on weather, ecosystems, air quality and health, and other socio-economic sectors such as solar energy or aviation. She is the scientist in charge of the WMO Sand and Dust Storm Warning Advisory and Assessment System (SDS-WAS) Regional Center for Northern Africa, Middle East and Europe, and the Barcelona Dust Forecast Center, hosted at BSC. She also participates in international projects and contracts. She is leading EU projects related to dust services as the EU ERA4CS project DustClim and the COST Action inDust. She is a scientific advisor of several United Nations programmes and secretariats (as the Coalition for combating Sand and Dust Storm, and the ESCAP/APDIM and UNEP agencies). She has authored or co-authored more than 30 peer-reviewed publications in international journals and book chapters. Furthermore, she has participated in capacity building and transfer of knowledge activities associated with private contracts, European Commission and United Nations programmes.
Jan Marco MÜLLER is Science & Technology Advisor at the European External Action Service (EEAS), since 2020. Before this, he held positions as assistant to the Scientific CEO of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Leipzig (Germany), as the Programme Manager of the JRC Institute for Environment and Sustainability in Ispra (Italy), and as Head of Business Development & Public Relations of the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) in Wallingford (UK). During these years he also served as Secretary of the Partnership for European Environmental Research (www.peer.eu). 2009-2012 he was the Assistant to the Director-General of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Brussels and went on to manage the office of the first Chief Scientific Adviser to the President of the European Commission Dame Anne Glover from 2012 to 2014. Following a 5-month fellowship with U.S. science policy expert Roger Pielke jr. at the University of Colorado, he helped set up the European Commission’s new Scientific Advice Mechanism. From April 2017 he was the Head of the Directorate Office of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) near Vienna, serving also as IIASA’s Coordinator for Science to Policy and Science Diplomacy
David Budtz PEDERSEN is Professor of Science Communication and Director of the Humanomics Research Centre in Copenhagen, Denmark. His research focuses on evidence-informed policy-making, science advice and and impact assessment. He frequently acts as speaker and adviser to international governments and funding agencies. David Budtz has about 150 entries on his list of publications ranging from research papers, research monographs, edited volumes, policy reports, op-ed columns and newspaper articles. He is the Chair of the EU COST High-Level Expert Group on Science Communication. In 2020, he was appointed Science Adviser on Algorithms, Data and Democracy by the Villum & Velux Foundations.