Enhancing Policy-making During an Emergency: Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic

Watch our events and engage with the ISC at the UN High-Level Political Forum
Enhancing Policy-making During an Emergency: Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic

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The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unequal responses and unequal impacts in countries and around the world. Science has uncovered much about the virus and made extraordinary and unprecedented progress on vaccine and treatment development, but there is still great uncertainty as the pandemic continues to evolve.

In 2021, the International Science Council, with the United Nations Office of Disaster Risk Reduction and the World Health Organization as observers, launched the COVID-19 Outcomes Scenarios Initiative – a project to outline the most plausible outcomes of the pandemic in the next 3-5 years, understand its potential impact global health, inequalities, and the economy, and outline how an optimistic and fair end to the pandemic might be achieved for the global community. An article in The Lancet finds that:

What emerges next will not only depend on the ongoing evolution of the virus, but on the behaviours of citizens, on the decisions of governments, on progress in medical science, and on the extent to which the international community can stand together in its efforts to defeat the virus.

Throughout the pandemic, many politicians have talked about the importance of “following the science” when implementing COVID-19 policy. However, there has sometimes been a disconnect between government policy and the fast-evolving scientific evidence.

During this HLPF side event, scientists, policy-makers, and civil society representatives discussed:

1. What has the pandemic taught the global community about policy-making thus far? What went well? What didn’t go well? What new policies are needed to minimize any long-term negative consequences of the pandemic?

2. What do scientists need to do to ensure that evidence is better understood and is taken up by policy-makers?

3. What do policy-makers need to do to put into practice evidence-based decision making?

4. How can civil society be better engaged in the development of policies?


Mami Mizutori

Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) for Disaster Risk Reduction, and head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, based in Geneva, Switzerland.

Peter Piot

Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and a Handa Professor of Global Health

Ines Hassan

ISC project lead for the COVID-19 Scenarios Project

⬇ Download the slides

Christiane Woopen

Christiane Woopen

Director of ceres (cologne center for ethics, rights, economics, and social sciences of health)

Elizabeth Jelin

Senior Researcher at CONICET (Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas of Argentina)

Claudio Struchiner

Full Professor at the School of Applied Mathematics (EMAp) at Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV), Full Professor (retired) at Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (FIOCRUZ) and Associate Professor at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ)

Learn more about the COVID-19 Scenarios Project.

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