04 September 2015
Director General and CEO of IIASA, Professor Dr. Pavel Kabat and Director-General of the JRC, Professor Dr. Vladimír Šucha signed the memorandum of understanding at the opening of the first joint JRC-IIASA Summer School on Evidence and Policy. Bringing together scientists and policymakers from across Europe, the school highlighted the importance of scientists and decision-makers working together to design problem-driven, solution-oriented and policy-relevant research. The workshop will contribute to fresh approaches to addressing policy questions using scientific insights from web-based games, models, and scenarios.
Both directors general expressed their great satisfaction at the agreement, emphasizing the many common interests between the two institutions. IIASA and JRC research teams already collaborate on questions that underlie policy deliberations, and this agreement will mean that there will be even more opportunity to use their complementary expertise to address critical, global issues such as land use, water, air pollution, energy, and climate.
“There are many cultural barriers between scientists and policymakers,” said Kabat. “And we must look to ourselves, as scientists and scientific institutions, to make sure that our work is not only of the highest quality, but also that it is also accessible to those who need it.”
Šucha echoed these sentiments, adding that although science and policy can sometimes seem like two tectonic plates—“huge, rigid, and engaged in a never-ending clash”—we can build effective bridges. Scientists need to remember three key points, the JRC director said. First, “timeliness,” scientists must provide evidence at the right time, not after policy decisions have already been made. This means anticipating the policy issues of the future. Second, “trust,” the historical mistrust between the two camps can be broken down by honest discussions and frequent engagement. Finally, “format,” scientific advice must be presented in a clear and succinct way for policymakers to use and understand.
The enhanced collaboration between IIASA and the JRC will provide just the bridges we need, leading to events such as the summer school which creates a “safe space” for scientists and policymakers to come together and learn to understand each other.
Last edited: 28 October 2015
Based on the summer school lecture by IIASA Distinguished Visiting Fellow Dr. E. William Colglazier
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