Integrating Science into Policymaking: What Works and Why

Sunday, February 14, 2016: 1:00 PM-2:30 PM
Wilson C (Marriott Wardman Park)
Policymakers are increasingly confronted with a wide array of challenges (e.g. climate change, economic inequality, aging populations, energy and food security, water scarcity), and often want to be informed by the best available science. Evidence-informed policymaking is not only a matter of effective decision-making, but also one of securing and maintaining public trust in governing institutions. However, the practice of using evidence in policymaking is mixed at best. A common challenge is ensuring that evidence is provided to policymakers in a timely fashion, by entities they trust, and in a format they can use. Policymaking is a complex behavioral and social phenomenon; in a democracy, evidence is but one part (what "is") and may be deemed inessential. Democratic decision-making ultimately involves integrating conflicting values of society (about what "ought" to be). Understanding the connections and distinctions between evidence and values (what “is” versus what “ought” to be) requires integrating science and policymaking. In this context, symposium panelists debate the practice of evidence-informed policymaking from a comparative international perspective. There is no single best approach, with intrinsic differences at regional, national, and international levels and between countries. Clearly a one-size-fits-all solution does not work. The aim of this debate is to highlight the many ways in which evidence is used to inform policy, the challenges faced, and key approaches that have been successful.
Stephen Davies, European Commission Joint Research Center
Geraldine Barry, JRC
Dominique Brossard, University of Wisconsin-Madison
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