The Changing Landscape for International Science Advice

Saturday, February 13, 2016: 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
Marshall Ballroom South (Marriott Wardman Park)
Sir Peter Gluckman, Government of New Zealand, Auckland, New Zealand
Science is at the heart of many bilateral, multilateral and global issues. For example the challenges of the Sustainable Development Goals highlight the need for more efficient and effective scientific input into global decision-making. While it is well understood that the interaction between science advice and policy within a country is inevitably confounded by many factors that are core to domestic policy, the issues are further compounded in the international arena by consideration of national and diplomatic interests. Where international organizations with policy-making capability exist (eg WHO) they may have their own science advisory and expert inputs. Alternatively elaborate assessment processes such as the IPCC may be needed to validate and protect the integrity of the scientific advice; but these are slow complex processes that cannot be replicated for every global challenge or crisis. But for more regional and bilateral issues, few mechanisms exist to limit the risk that science will be misused as a proxy for inter-jurisdictional debates that are not scientific. This has happened not infrequently in trade disputes. The raft of new and sometimes controversial technologies emerging creates a long agenda of issues that will require some forms of transnational understandings from agreed definitions and standards to complex regulation. As science advisory mechanisms become more established within jurisdictions, the possibility that a priori agreement on the science might inform subsequent negotiations across jurisdictions, may become possible.  There are already moves to enhance linkages between science advisory mechanisms across borders to assist in managing crises and emergencies. This might inform processes that can be used more broadly. The development of a EU-wide science advisory mechanism provides another experiment in how external expert and academy inputs into a trans-national policy making organization might emerge. It may be important that structures such as this have formal linkages to individual jurisdictional expert and academy input, rather than relying on dislocated central expert inputs to be effective. There is increasing interest in establishing principles and codes of conduct for science advice within nations (eg Gluckman, Nature 507, 163 2014; 2015; the Declaration of the World Science Forum 2015): similar principles should be applicable in the international arena.