» Science meets Parliament: Science's answer to the EU and national policy-makers' expectations
20.09.2015 - Natural Sciences Sector

Science meets Parliament: Science's answer to the EU and national policy-makers' expectations

© UNESCO. Carlos Moedas (European Commissioner for Research and Innovation) and Flavia Schlegel at the EU Parliament, 15 September 2015.

On 15 September, a new initiative brought members of the European and national parliaments together with representatives of scientific institutions with the aim of improving the culture of evidence-based policy-making and to stress the importance of science. Flavia Schlegel, Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, UNESCO, was invited to share UNESCO’s experience and provide a global perspective during a high-level panel session. The event was organized by the EU’s Joint Research Commission, to set the basis for greater and continued cooperation.

Science, Technology and Innovation (STIs) are drivers of the economic, environmental and social aspects of sustainable development. “The results of science, both basic and applied science, should ultimately make life better for people”, stressed Ms Schlegel. In order to address the critical global challenges that hinge on science, including food and water security, energy and climate change, both scientists and policy makers must be mobilized. Therefore policy makers and scientists must engage in constructive collaboration to design effective policies.

Throughout its 70 years of history, UNESCO has been a true facilitator of the science-policy-society interface, especially through networks that facilitate south-south and north-south cooperation. Since 2003, UNESCO has facilitated an exchange between the scientific communities and decision makers in developing and emerging countries, where there is a short history of such dialogues, in order to enable policy-makers to understand the science underlying many political decisions, while also enabling scientists to understand the political constraints decision makers must take into account.

UNESCO works with Member States to ensure that they have access to scientific networks and the expertise they need. UNESCO also hosts the secretariat of the Scientific Advisory Board of the UN Secretary General, created to reinforce the importance of scientific advice to policy making and to provide such advice to the UN system as needed.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides a common roadmap for public policy and science, but further exchange is needed in order to build trust between the two communities. This was the objective of this Science Day at the European Parliament, which launched 2 initiatives:

  • ‘Science meets Parliaments’, launched by the EU’s Joint Research Commission (JRC), which aims at bringing together scientists and policy-makers from both European and national levels; and
  • MEP-scientist pairing scheme - a project of the European Parliament's Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Panel, aimed at enhancing mutual understanding and fostering links between MEPs and scientists.

The high-level panel entitled “Science's answer to the EU and national policy-makers' expectations” was moderated by Vladimir Sucha, Director General of the JRC.

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