Despite widespread agreement on the need to ensure that all policy decisions are informed by the best available scientific evidence, the potential contribution of science to policy-making could be much greater than it is today.
At the global level, and particularly within the UN system, more impactful science-policy engagement requires effective coordination between a growing range of interface mechanisms, which operate within and between different agencies and with different mandates, modes of engagement and cultures of decision-making. Given that global policy-making is ultimately dependent on endorsement from member states, it is also essential to connect efforts to advance evidence-informed policy-making at the national level to those undertaken internationally. The critical role of science in addressing virtually every global issue must be continually reinforced through coordination between and across these levels.
Amplifying the visibility and voice of the international scientific community within the UN and other global policy fora requires a long-term vision of the role of science in global policy. This must be based on an understanding of the complex political dynamics and policy processes at the global level and of the most effective pathways to influence for science, both formal and informal.
A strengthened mandate for science in global policy, supported by effective and coordinated science-policy interface mechanisms and based on recognition of the ISC as the global go-to for independent, integrated scientific expertise, input and advice.
Mapping scientific entry points in the UN system
The UN system typically uses different mechanisms to input scientific knowledge into decision making processes. These mechanisms include global scientific assessments (e.g. IPCC or IPBES), advisory groups (e.g. the Scientific Advisory Board [inactive], Science Advisory Group for the 2019 Climate Action Summit), expert groups (e.g. GSDR Independent Group of Scientists), standing committees, in-house experts (e.g. UNICEF’s Data & Analytics and Office of Global Insight and Policy), rosters of experts (e.g. UN Security Council Affairs Division) and panels (e.g. high-level panel on food security).
By mapping scientific entry points in the UN system, this activity aims to illustrate how scientific inputs are organized in the UN System, in order to help identify opportunities, trends and gaps that are further analysed in a working paper on science in and for the UN.
Following several rounds of drafting and feedback from a group of experts, the map of scientific entry points will be further refined in 2020. The results of the mapping exercise will be available on the ISC website in late 2020. The ISC team is also currently working on a web-based tool to illustrate the different entry points.
Professor at the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford; Neoma Business School, France; Adjunct Professor at Sciences Po.
Director General Emeritus of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT-CGIAR).
Head of the Ocean Science Section at the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO.