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Bridging the divide between science and politics

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  1. Bridging the divide between science and politics David Dickson, Director, SciDev.Net Annual Meeting of the African Science Academy Development Initiative (ASADI) Royal Society, London, 5 November 2008

  2. www.scidev.net

  3. Overview of respondents Number % of total Researchers 288 46.7% Intermediaries 214 34.7% Policy-makers 113 18.3% Total sample size: 617. www.scidev.net

  4. Theme 1 Evidence-based policy-making is poorly institutionalised in developing country contexts www.scidev.net

  5. Fig. 1. Satisfaction with degree to which policy is based on ST&I evidence (all respondents)

  6. Obstacles to uptake of scientific information in development policy-making Scientific understanding by policymakers is low 64% Limited openness by politicians 61% Lack of dissemination of research findings 59% Lack of incentives 56% Lack of institutional channels for incorporation 44% www.scidev.net

  7. Implications • Lack of formal mechanisms for integrating scientific knowledge into policy. • Policy priorities often drive the use of research, rather than research stimulating policy recommendations. www.scidev.net

  8. Theme 2 Audience-appropriate information targeting is imperative www.scidev.net

  9. Implication • ST&I information must be targeted to the needs of actors in the policy process • Mst also target the stage in the policy process at which actors use such information. www.scidev.net

  10. Theme 3 Intermediary organisations are needed as knowledge brokers for researcher and policy-making communities www.scidev.net

  11. Fig. 14 Potential knowledge services that could be provided by a web-based intermediary organisation

  12. Theme 4 Interaction and deliberation, rather than just research dissemination, is needed to bridge the ST&I researcher/policy-maker gap www.scidev.net

  13. Fig. 10 Types of information found useful by policymakers in development policy decision-making

  14. Theme 5 Policy-engaged scientists are critically important www.scidev.net

  15. Fig. 3 Scientists as neutral information providers or also engaging in policy debates

  16. Implications • Strong desire from Southern policy-makers for scientific findings to be complemented by policy-relevant recommendations. • Policy-makers and development practitioners would make greater use of scientific research findings if scientists engaged more openly with the policy implications, and present policy options. www.scidev.net

  17. Dangers! • Politicisation of science. • Scientisation of politics. www.scidev.net

  18. Theme 6 Improving public understanding of ST&I will facilitate better policy dialogues [and help avoid previous two dangers] www.scidev.net

  19. Fig. 11 Extent to which respondents believed that increased participation from a scientifically informed public will lead to improved development

  20. Implications • Strong interest by both policy-makers and researchers in greater public participation in ST&I-related policy debates • This requires initiatives to improve public understanding of ST&I to promote a more informed and engaged public. www.scidev.net

  21. In brief: Policymakers at all levels need accurate, timely, concise and reliable information about potential role of science and technology in meeting development objectives. www.scidev.net

  22. In addition: Public understanding of, and engagement in, S&T ensures open and democratic debate about the promises they offer – as well as their transparent governance of their potentially negative consequences. www.scidev.net

  23. Promise of the world wide web: Eliminating transaction of costs of sharing information opens up new opportunities for effective science communication. www.scidev.net

  24. What we are and what we do www.scidev.net

  25. Our role: To act as a basic resource for policymakers and stakeholders concerned with science and development issues. To achieve this by providing a combination of topical and background information that is both authoritative and accessible www.scidev.net

  26. Our activities: • Operating a free-access website (www.scidev.net) containing news, views and analysis about science and technology in the developing world. • Organising regional workshops and other activities – including internships – to enhance the capacity of science journalists and others (including researchers) to provide reliable and authoritative information on such issues www.scidev.net

  27. Our website contains • News • Feature articles • • Opinion articles • • Weekly editorial • • Dossiers (including commissioned policy briefs) • • Notices (including lists of meetings, grants and jobs) • • Links (e.g. to scientific organisations and journals) • • Feedback from users www.scidev.net

  28. Capacity-building workshops These are intended to help build capacity in developing countries to report accurately on science and technology and their contributions to development.

  29. Operating data • Full operation since 2001 • 36,000 registered users (8,000 in sub-Saharan Africa) • >2/3 (69% in developing countries) • 28,000 visitors per week • > 100 freelance contributors around the developing world www.scidev.net

  30. SciDev.Net is supported by the journals: Academy of Sciences of the Developing World www.scidev.net

  31. SciDev.Net is currently funded by: • UK Department for International Development (DFID) • Swedish International Development Agency (Sida/SAREC) • • International Development Research Centre (IDRC) • • Dutch Ministry for Foreign Affairs (DGIS) • • Swiss Development Agency (SDC) www.scidev.net

  32. For more information, and to register to receivefree weekly email alert, visit us at: www.scidev.net For information about workshops and other activities, contact me at: david.dickson@scidev.net Thank you! London, 5 November 2008 www.scidev.net