Strengthening the science policy interface towards sustainable development
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Strengthening the Science-Policy Interface Towards Sustainable Development. Dr. Gisbert Glaser International Council for Science (ICSU) Side Event at 2 nd Meeting of Rio 2012 Preparatory Committee New York, 8 March 2011 . Good Policies/Governance need good science.

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Strengthening the science policy interface towards sustainable development

Strengthening the Science-Policy Interface Towards Sustainable Development

Dr. Gisbert Glaser

International Council for Science (ICSU)

Side Event at 2nd Meeting of Rio 2012 Preparatory Committee

New York, 8 March 2011


Good policies governance need good science
Good Policies/Governance Sustainable Developmentneed good science

  • Policy setting and implementation must be based on the best available knowledge, (natural, social, economic, health, engineering, etc. sciences

  • Strengthening the scientific base of environment and sustainable development governance institutions should be one major building block of institutional reform, to be agreed upon by Rio+20.


Existing science policy interface mechanisms ieg assessment bodies
Existing science-policy interface mechanisms (IEG): Assessment Bodies

  • Assessment Body

  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

  • Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

  • (IPBES)

Policy Body

  • UNFCC

  • CBD


  • Continuum from observations research modelling through assessments to science based s d policies
    Continuum from observations/research/modelling, through assessments, to science based s.d. policies

    • Scientific assessments (e.g. IPCC, MEA, IAASTD):

    • Establish the current knowledge on a given problem and its future risks; most include assessments of options for action.

    • Need to be repeated or updated periodically. (Concerns about time lags)

    • Interdisciplinary scientific information

    • Based on interdisciplinary research and knowledge


    Scientific advisory bodies e g sbstas
    Scientific advisory bodies (e.g. SBSTAs) assessments, to science based :

    • Provide regular scientific and technical advice to COPs of Conventions, multilateral organisations etc.

    • Set their agenda with the programme of work decided by the intergovernmental body.

    • (Concerns about scientific independence and quality)


    Criteria for best practice of science policy interface processes
    Criteria for best practice assessments, to science based of science-policy interface processes

    • scientific independence, excellence and credibility

    • policy relevant scientific knowledge and information (interdisciplinary knowledge and information; participatory approach)

    • policy coherence across sectors (integrated approach – three pillars and across sectors;)


    Legitimacy in a political context and mutual trust
    Legitimacy in a political context assessments, to science based and mutual trust

    • Geographically balanced: representation of the global scientific community.

    • Open, inclusive, including also major civil society actors and the private sector (participatory approach)

    • Transparency of the process(es).

    • Good communication by scientists about processes, strengths and limitations of their work.


    Other science policy interface mechanisms
    Other science-policy interface assessments, to science based Mechanisms

    • Chief science advisors

    • Science for Policy briefs

    • Hearings

    • Other ?


    Regional s t workshops for rio 20
    Regional S & T Workshops assessments, to science based for Rio+20

    • giving a voice to scientific communities in 4 developing regions (Asia/Pacific; Africa, LAC, West Asia)

    • organised jointly by ICSU and UNESCO (Regional Offices)

    • Dialogue sessions with governments; other stakeholders/Major Groups


    Major global science for policy events rio 20
    Major global assessments, to science based “science for policy” events – Rio+20

    • International Conference “Planet Under Pressure”, London, March 2012

    • International Forum on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development, Rio de Janeiro, May/June 2012


    Scientific uncertainty
    Scientific uncertainty assessments, to science based

    • Uncertainty will always be a feature of scientific research.

    • Used as an excuse for not developing rigorous policies and taking action.

    • 1992 Rio: Precautionary principle (Principle no. 15 in Agenda 21).

    • Often not well implemented.


    Dealing with uncertainty
    Dealing with uncertainty assessments, to science based

    • Where gaps exist, present the scope of scientific hypotheses and define the level of uncertainty. Communicate openly.

    • Assess the likely consequences of taking no action.

    • Diverging views among scientists can be worrying for policy makers.

    • Need to weigh few divergent views against international scientific peer-reviewed consensus.


    Ways forward
    Ways forward assessments, to science based

    • Develop a strategic approach to strengthening science-policy links in individual organisations (e.g. CSD, UNEP,etc.); for each Convention/multilateral environmental/sustainable development agreement; institutions at the regional and national levels.

    • Follow “best practice” to ensure high quality, independent, policy relevant, and “geo-politically” legitimate scientific information and advice.

    • Support developing countries to build capacity in science and technology, as well as in science for policy processes.

    • Strengthen research and science for sustainable development and on global environmental change.


    Strengthening international science for the benefit of society
    Strengthening International Science for the Benefit of Society

    “Think piece” prepared for Stakeholder Forum’s SDG2012 programme (February 2011):

    Enhancing Science-Policy Links for Global Sustainability

    By Gisbert Glaser, PhD, and Peter Bates, PhD, International Council for Science (ICSU)


    Science for policy
    Science for policy Society

    • Thank you!


    Policy relevance and coherence
    Policy relevance and coherence Society

    • Participatory approach: Consensus process between scientific experts, governmental policy makers and other stakeholders at all stages. Participation of the private sector and major civil society actors is a critical element.

    • As a first step, needs in terms of scientific information and advice, and key questions, should be identified jointly from a policy perspective.

    • Integrated approach: Integrated scientific advice cutting across environmental, economic and equity problems.


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