Salvatore Aricò on science advice at the United Nations

How might the future of science advice look at the global level? Will the establishment of a UN Group of Friends on Science for Action be the catalyst that elevates science advice to the highest levels of multilateral decision-making, and how will this complement the Secretary-General’s renewed scientific advisory board? And what should the role of the international science community be? In this episode, Dr Salvatore Aricò, chief executive of the International Science Council, shares his experience and his vision with Toby Wardman, drawing on practical examples to illustrate how such science advice mechanisms work in practice.

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Toby Wardman: Hello. Welcome to the Science for Policy podcast. My name is Toby and today I’m joined by Dr. Salvatore Aricò. Dr. Aricò is the chief executive officer of the International Science Council, a global organization which aims to bring together and amplify scientific expertise on issues of global importance. He has a background in marine sciences. He’s previously worked as head of ocean science at the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Scientific Advisory Board, among many other roles. So Salvatore, welcome to the podcast.

Salvatore Aricò: Thank you very much. I’m very happy to be here.

Toby Wardman: It sounds like you have quite the background at the science policy interface. And with some guests, I like to ask them ‘How did you transition from your own research area into the more general science for policy field?’. But given that your research area was always ocean sciences, perhaps this comes a bit more naturally to you because it is so policy focused anyway?

Salvatore Aricò: Well, yes and no in the sense that when I started after my PhD a long time ago, I was very much interested in the interface between science and policy, but such an interface was not really existing. It was in its very infancy. So I was part of what I consider to be a social experiment, which was about burying the findings of scientific research to meet the the needs of policy makers. But as I said, it was very much at the beginning of what is now called the science policy interface.

Toby Wardman: And where was this experiment happening? Where were you working at the start?

Salvatore Aricò: At the beginning my first experience was precisely in relation to marine biodiversity, starting with the integrated coastal management, but eventually moving on to an emerging issue related to bioprospecting of genetic resources from the deep seabed for which there was no legal, no policy regime.

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Toby Wardman: And I guess this was at the international level, this was United Nations.

Salvatore Aricò: That’s correct. Basically, I was involved in the early days of the Convention on Biological Diversity, which is one of the Rio conventions, together with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification. And from the very beginning there were issues related to biodiversity in national jurisdiction under national jurisdiction versus by the diversity and resources, generally speaking, in areas beyond national jurisdiction. And one of those was precisely how to access the so-called genetic resources of the deep seabed. And in particular it was clear that that was a prerogative of the lucky few due to the fact that the technology involved is extremely sophisticated and expensive similar to space technology. So the global South was wondering how the international community would go about access to those resources and the sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of those resources. And that was one of my first exposures to the question of science advice to governments, especially in the context of international negotiations under the auspices of the UN.

Toby Wardman: Great. We often talk on this podcast about science advice and how it works at national level in individual countries and indeed at international well, as the UN call it, regional level, so as the European Union and so on. But we’ve only occasionally touched on global level science advice, maybe only, I don’t know, 2 or 3 times in 70 episodes or so. What I took away from those conversations though, is that the way science advice works and is approached globally is really very different indeed from the way it works at other levels. Is that also your impression?

Salvatore Aricò: That’s definitely my impression. I think that if one takes a step back, we could agree both the the community of science policy practitioners but also the academicians that have been analyzing the history and the dynamics of science to policy advice. The Montreal Protocol on ozone depletion is tends to be recognized as the first example of science advice and science policy advice at the global level. But if one scratches the surface a little bit, you would realize that it was an initiative by a bunch of scientists and in fact there was one individual in particular who ended up later, a few years later as the chair of the IPCC, Sir Robert Watson also called Bob Watson, who at that time was with NASA and in particular NASA’s mission to planet Earth and had the idea of pulling together the science of ozone depletion in the form of an assessment which was essentially an assessment of the knowledge that we had about the issue but in a language accessible to policymakers. And that is considered to be some kind of an experiment that eventually worked beautifully and led countries in in front of such clear evidence to agree on on a multilateral treaty and the creation of a dedicated fund.

Toby Wardman: It’s interesting you describe it as an initiative started by a bunch of scientists. Are you saying this stuff was built bottom up? So not not a policy maker or an institution saying, hey, we need some science advice here, but rather scientists essentially getting involved in advocacy for for their work and its relevance?

Salvatore Aricò: That’s exactly the case. It was a bottom up initiative of what we could call define as responsible science advocacy, essentially alerting policy makers in the first place rather than society at large on a risk, but also an opportunity that is to counteract the problem of ozone depletion in this particular case. And so it happens that at that time alternative technologies were available and therefore it was rather easy to put in place a mechanism of technology transfer that eventually paved the ground for this particular problem to be solved or at least for us to make progress with it. And 25, 30 years later, we are faced with one of the few success stories in the history of science policy advice.

Toby Wardman: All right. Ouch. Okay, good. So so let’s talk about now where are we in science advice? Let’s say specifically on the global stage 25 or 30 years later? What’s the state of the art?

Salvatore Aricò: I think the practice of science policy advice and the underpinning theory has matured a lot. There have been multiple examples at the global level in multiple areas. But I wanted to say that those not just examples but those cases have allowed to also develop a robust theory of science policy advice at the global level and particularly a few basic principles. So if you allow me to go through quickly, I think it’s important to first of all recognize the importance that the fact that science policy advice has to be relevant, science advice has to be policy relevant, not policy descriptive. This is an assumption, a principle that many tend to refer to and to the point that nowadays we tend to give it for granted. And yet this is an important reminder to all of us. That is to say that the language of science advice policy has to be crafted very carefully because otherwise it’s so easy for governments who may not be aligned with that particular piece of science advice to dismiss that. So policy relevance, but making sure that the science advice is not policy prescriptive.

Toby Wardman: Okay. Hang on. So sorry to interrupt, but this is interesting. So of course, a lot of people talk about the importance of crafting the language when you’re giving science advice. But I think commonly what’s meant there is literally the language, you know, the words. It shouldn’t be too technical. It should use terms that policymakers are used to and the explanation should be accessible and so on. But it seems like you’re saying something slightly different here. You’re saying that it needs to be constructed, as it were, defensively. So it’s kind of dismissal proof.

Salvatore Aricò: Absolutely. I can give you a concrete example. I remember there was an episode of coral bleaching in in the late 90s that the international community, both the scientific community but also policy community was very much worried about. And of course we are faced with climate variability but increasingly climate change and eventually the to operate in a synergistic way. And there was a discussion in the context of the scientific body of the Convention on Biological Diversity. It’s called the subsidiary Body for scientific, technical and technological advice on what drives coral bleaching. And obviously coral bleaching is about coral systems losing their basic functions in the end and therefore you the whole livelihood systems that are dependent on those systems, especially in the global South, would collapse, namely artisanal fisheries and and also tourism. So it was an issue of not just an ecological concern but also social and economic preoccupation. And there was a whole discussion about which extent climate change was the main driver when it comes to coral bleaching. And and they are the tension was between those countries that wanted climate change to be listed as one of the drivers at the same level as, let’s say eutrophication over sedimentation or siltation, degradation of the physical habitat and others who were pushing for climate change to be if not singled out, but to be recognized as the main factor for the increase in the intensity and frequency of this particular phenomenon coral bleaching. And at the end of the day, the evidence was pretty clear. The Convention on Biological diversity at that time was enjoying a certain freedom of thinking and action in terms of being able for the Secretariat to be able to pull together expert groups made of the top notch scientists in that particular area. And I remember it was with the CBD Secretariat and we were able to pull together a report to inform an expert consultation on coral bleaching, which was essentially a great piece of science but in a policy friendly language. And the report was crystal clear that climate change had a central role when it comes to the intensity, the increased intensity and frequency of coral bleaching. So with that piece of evidence and also presented in the right language, which was definitely not prescriptive but very authoritative scientifically. Well, at the end of the day, even the skeptics ended up accepting that piece of advice and the resulting resolution of the convention of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD clearly stated that climate change was responsible for an increase in intensity and frequency of coral bleaching events all over the world.

Toby Wardman: Right. So by policy relevance you don’t just mean something that’s relevant to what policymakers are working on, but also something that it’s, as it were, within their domain to act on so they can see how they can take it forward.

Salvatore Aricò: Yes, absolutely. Policy relevance is one that has to be there because de facto you are responding to a demand out there and without a what I would call a policy enabling framework, even a societal relevant piece of evidence may not be picked up by those who are responsible for taking decisions policy makers. So policy relevance is one. The others kind of go without saying when it comes to saliency, cogency; that advice has to be expressed in a way which is which is clear, which is really cogent and and and also salient, that is to say short and and sweet, so to speak, short and clear. But at the same time, there is a whole challenge when it comes to translating complex issues into a language that is accessible. And yet I think the scientific community is getting there gradually. And this is a point I’d like to elaborate on a little bit. And perhaps the last main criteria, principle, is timeliness. That is to say that there has to be good matchmaking between the priorities and timeliness of the policy community with what the scientific community may have to say. But it can go in the other way round as well. The scientific community can raise issues which are not yet on the policy radar or on the radar of policy makers. So it’s really a dialog and increasingly so.

Toby Wardman: Okay, great. And you said you think the science advice community globally is getting there in terms of having the structures in place to put those principles into practice to make science advice effective?

Salvatore Aricò: Yes. I think on the one hand the policy community is now recognizing that there is a need for appropriate mechanisms to operationalize the function of science advice to policy making. So and on the other hand, the international scientific community is becoming a better and better in explaining complex issues in a way which is accessible and digestible by policy makers. So I’d like to give an example of what’s happening at both sides of the spectrum when it comes to policy advice mechanisms, science policy advice mechanisms at the global level. There is a very interesting development as we speak that is taking unfolding in at the level of the United Nations. In fact, both in terms of Member States, the General Assembly and the Secretariat, in terms of member States, UN member States under the leadership of the current President of the General Assembly, they are increasingly recognizing the importance of actionable knowledge, that is to say, science and evidence based policy making. And for that reason we expect a group of subset of UN member states to constitute a group of friends around science, which will be a very interesting and rather novel development in the UN. Normally you have a group of friends organized around issues of common interest in terms of domestic, political and economic agendas. In this case, it’s really almost an advocacy a science advocacy initiative initiated by member states and facilitated also by the International Science Council.

Toby Wardman: Okay. And that’s at a political level. So that’s the member states themselves, as it were, self-organizing rather than something the scientists are doing.

Salvatore Aricò: Absolutely. But interesting it is interesting because one can consider that as an indication of the fact that member states are finally recognizing the importance of embedding science advice in in the practice of policymaking. So I find it very interesting that they are the ones taking the initiative. On the other hand, at the level of the Secretariat of the UN which discharges administrative functions, but the Secretariat of the UN also contains portions which are scientific and technical branches of the UN Secretariat. There is an intention by the Secretary General to reestablish the scientific advisory board of the UN. A couple of years ago there was a first ever attempt to formalize science advice in the context of the UN. I had the privilege to be involved in that exercise. The first UN Secretary General’s Scientific Advisory Board established by former Secretary General Ban Ki moon. And at that time it was essentially a group of experts dealing with a number of questions on the global policy agenda and providing advice to policy makers. But it appears that this time, in addition to a group of independent members, the secretary general intends to also rely on first of all, a number of chief scientists that have been appointed within individual UN organizations, which is something that did not exist until a few years ago. But additionally there is an intention to add an outer circle, so to speak, whereby the the scientific advisory board would be able to interact with the active international where the scientific community at the international level. So that is a an initiative that complements what I what I mentioned about member States wanting to create and organize themselves around actionable knowledge through a group of friends and on the other hand the Secretariat responding also with a scientific advisory board that would be made not just of a group of renown experts but which would also embed the mechanism to liaise with the active scientific community. And the International Science Council is planning to help in that respect, especially when it comes to interfacing with the scientists themselves.

Toby Wardman: I see. So the role of the ISC would be as an interface between the UN and the scientific community like a matchmaker, as it were.

Salvatore Aricò: Yes, someone has to operationalize that interface between the scientific Advisory Board of the UN and the active international scientific community. An organization like the International Science Council is a position really to gather the views and aspirations, knowledge of the active science community in a bottom up way, especially because we have the aspiration to become something else. I mean something more than a federation of national science academies. National science academies are very important when it comes to federating science activities at the national level. The International Science Council in 2018 was kind of reformed following the merger of an organization called the International Council for Science, which used to federate natural sciences, academies and organizations with the International Social Science Council, which used to federate academies of social and human sciences and other science organizations in that area. So interdisciplinarity increasingly transdisciplinarity is happening and we are walking the talk on that. But at the same time there is a need for science to reach out to society, get out of its ivory tower and get their hands a bit more wet with some of those societal problems while maintaining a freedom of thinking and action.

Toby Wardman: Okay, so this is really interesting. If we may, I’d like to get into the details of this a bit because saying that the ISC will connect the scientific community with policy makers or perhaps with the Policy Makers Advisory Board or whatever, that could mean different things in different contexts. So you could be talking about being a matchmaker, you know, connecting parts of the community with the policy makers as needed. And another role there could be more as a kind of evidence synthesizer where you might do that knowledge synthesis, work yourself or commission it or put together working groups or whatever. And I suppose a third possible role could be for the ISC to become a full on knowledge broker, right? You know, get your hands dirty engaging with the scientific and the political sides to provide a more holistic science for policy service, right? So there’s various different models here and I’d love to hear a bit more about the shape you see this new mechanism taking if you have a clear idea of that, of course.

Salvatore Aricò: Absolutely. Absolutely. I completely agree with: the function of science advice to policy is definitely not just a matter of synthesis digesting scientific evidence into the policy language. It’s a it’s a brokerage kind of function. So, for example, when looking at the future of science and in particular the future of science systems, there are so many players around the table that need to be mobilized. And it’s not just policymakers. It also is the funders of research, the publishers and, you know, to a certain extent the public as well, because we are facing a big crisis related to trust in science, trust in science, misinformation, miscommunication, mistrust. So the International Science Council is adopting a systems approach to the science enterprise, and science advice to policy becomes one important element of the interface with science with in this case policy making. But there are other actors, other stakeholders that we are increasingly interfacing with. So we do see the International Science Council helping and with that important brokerage function, absolutely. Now when it comes to specific issues, specific priorities be those climate change or inequality, social justice. Also the impact of conflicts on science and science on scientists and science systems. There are a lot of actors out there. For example, the the active research community working in the area of global change. But again, there is a need for some brokerage role and the interface with the policy community because initiatives such as the World Climate Research Program, Future Earth, no matter how strong they are from a scientific standpoint, there is a lack of culture within the scientific community when it comes to the language of policy making and and how to interface with the actors and stakeholders other than scientists themselves. So we we see that the interface role is very important and as I said, not just the interface of science with policy but also with other stakeholders in society that are affected by knowledge generated through science.

Toby Wardman: I have to ask how politically welcome is science advice in these kinds of multilateral scenes? I mean, the reason I ask I did an interview a long time ago now with someone who studies the science advice mechanism that exists for Antarctica, the continent of Antarctica. And one of the points she made was that the governance system there is this kind of very sensitive, very carefully defined and finely balanced multilateral system which which kind of exists to reconcile and balance different national interests and and generate compromises. And sometimes in those kinds of systems it can be hard to see quite where science can usefully join the conversation because you know, the need for balance and compromise and consensus are just too dominant to leave much space for other considerations. And I wonder — this shows my ignorance a bit about how the UN works, perhaps, but I wonder whether there are enough opportunities at UN level to land science advice where it doesn’t just get crowded out by political multilateral negotiations.

Salvatore Aricò: I think it’s a very good question. And the answer, my answer, would be a bit more optimistic. And then this specific example related to the the Antarctic Treaty, I think it’s a matter of language. It’s a matter of how that science advice is presented. I remember a couple of years ago I saw a wonderful report on illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing by Greenpeace International. I happen to be a biological oceanographer and I read that report with great interest and frankly, it was a great piece of work, but it got completely ignored by member states. It had been tabled at one particular negotiation on biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, which is a process that took some 15 years for Member States to agree that there will be a treaty to regulate access to biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. But that that piece of work, which was really a piece of science advice by that particular organization, got ignored. Because maybe the advocacy reputation of Greenpeace International, which is doing a fantastic job but which is not seen as an organization operating at the interface of science with policy. So no matter how good the contents of those report will be, policymakers would be suspicious and also would not be really in a position to use those findings and that advice. And in parallel, there were other reports, for example, from the United Nations University which were saying the same things but phrased in a way which was more prone to the language. And I would say even thinking of policymakers because at the end of the day we are talking about different epistemological communities. So the articulation of the dialog is as important as the content of that science advice. So I think I would be rather optimistic in in asserting that the level of acceptance of advice from the scientific community on behalf of Member States policy makers in the context of the UN has increased the load.

Toby Wardman: Yeah. Okay. Well that’s good to hear. Then the other question I have, which again I think shows my ignorance a bit of the way the UN actually works, So I’m just kind of imagining possible problems and hoping you can confirm or deny. My other question is about how this structure interacts with the national level and I suppose the regional level. What I’m thinking here is the parties to the UN decision making are national governments and bodies like the EU and I’m sure many others. But that’s the basic idea, right? And these parties all have their own sources of science advice anyway, which they can bring with them to the table if they want. So does the UN have enough decision making autonomy of its own to really make use of a layer of science advice there over and above the existing stuff that its constituent members already have, if that makes sense.

Salvatore Aricò: I think this is a very interesting question because the answer is no to a certain extent in the sense that governments remain sovereign and science advice or, you know, let’s say UN decisions based on science advice may also face a certain level of resistance when it comes to, let’s say alternative science advice by the national level in the case of some governments.

Toby Wardman: Yeah. It doesn’t have to be rival science advice. It could just be duplication, you know. Do you add any value by doing it again at UN level?

Salvatore Aricò: However, there is an increased effort in trying to bridge science advice throughout multiple scales. At the national level we experience different models of science advice in the first place when it comes to bridging those efforts with the say, science advice at the regional level, be that for Latin America and the Caribbean or Africa and ultimately the UN. There are mechanisms that the individual UN organizations are putting in place which are pretty much soft mechanisms based on foresight rather than science advice per se. I mean science advice is of course the goal, but those mechanisms are perhaps softer mechanisms informing ultimately science advice at the level of the UN as a whole. So I think with time those efforts are being breached increasingly and more and more effectively. But yet there is a we will always be faced with a situation whereby even if the UN has taken certain decisions based on science advice, it’s a prerogative of individual governments to follow that or not.

Toby Wardman: I guess then — I mean, because you can imagine different motivations for not following that. I mean, there’s a political motivation, of course, but there’s also just the possibility that the science advice people have access to is different in what it says. So I guess the higher level you go, the more consensus based your science advice has to be.

Salvatore Aricò: The higher level you go, the more diluted that science advice unavoidably ends up to be, unfortunately. And it’s not only a matter of political correctness, it also is a matter of what science means and and how science operates in different contexts. For example, of course I’m generalizing here but in the Global South, but I’ll give examples — in countries like India, which of course is a major economy in transition where you have a lot of great science efforts going on and still developing related issues — science is very close to societal problems, paradoxically closer than in the European context, which continues to be very much related to knowledge generation. Although there is an increasing pressure on science to deliver solutions on on the ground, even in the European context, there are also issues of a cultural nature. Science would need to take into account other forms of knowledge, in particular the knowledge of indigenous local communities. Even in a in a reality like faced by a country like Australia where, for example, fire management practices continue to be in ways to be based largely on Indigenous knowledge and yet that knowledge is not captured by landscape management policies. And thirdly, there is also an issue related to language, I think in the sense that science advice is also increasingly present in the literature. But language barriers are such that knowledge cannot be necessarily taken into account and embedded in contexts other than Anglophone contexts. So there are a number of barriers in place. But overall I would say that the practice of science advice to policy is the notion is is increasingly accepted and made room for sure.

Toby Wardman: That absolutely makes sense. But in a way some of what you said is the other side of the coin to this important principle. You mentioned a while ago of policy relevance because as we just said, there’s always the risk that the higher you go, the more diluted the science advice becomes, the more kind of lowest common denominator it is required to be. And one reason for that might be that there’s this tension between being independent where the scientists are free to tell it straight, you know, tell it like it is, and being politically relevant where they also have to think we’d better make sure that our advice works for for all of our extremely broad and politically diverse audience and they can actually use it. And those two imperatives can pull in different directions. I mean, this is not a problem that’s unique to the UN, of course, but it does strike me that it must rear its head a lot at global level of the system is so multilateral and everything requires compromise and consensus. There’s no central authority.

Salvatore Aricò: It is. And that’s why the International Science Council defines and promotes the principle of freedom and responsibility of science. So far this principle has been applied from the point of view of scientists being able to operate freely from any influence by governments in particular. Of course, that’s not always the case. There are a number of cases with which the International Science Council deals related precisely to the fact that some individual scientists or scientific organizations are under pressure and the influence of some governments or the censorship of some governments. The principle The second part of that principle relates to the responsibility in conducting science, which is on the one hand about integrity of scientists in the way they work, but increasingly also a societal the societal responsibility of scientists in terms of helping craft some solutions to the problems that society faces while maintaining the independence and freedom of thinking and in action. So it’s a delicate balance to strike. And yet if scientists do not accept the rules of policymaking and the fact that they themselves have to not necessarily dilute their discourse but accept some compromise. And the compromise is not in the in the substance. The compromise is in what may or may not be possible to respond to and achieve from a policy making perspective. So at the end of the day, science advice is about saying this is what we know. This is what we don’t know. These are the options and these are the implications of the options. And policy makers may say, well, this is a great piece of advice, but we are not yet in a position to respond. Not just because of political considerations, but also because of the reality of policymaking, how policies are developed and and implemented and monitored and evaluated.

Toby Wardman: Yeah, I’m tempted to say good luck with it all because it sounds like a very delicate balance to strike. And I guess it will be a different balance topic by topic depending on the details and the sensitivity.

Salvatore Aricò: Absolutely. At the same time, the dialog is a fruitful one for both constituencies. I’ll give a concrete example. The last report by the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is recognizing the need for geoengineering actually to be more specifically for the capture and storage of CO2. From a risk management perspective, we know that capturing the CO2 and and also the storage of CO2 in particular entails a number of risks, especially if implemented at planetary scale. And yet we must have that kind of dialog in the context of the Paris Agreement, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. So sometimes the goal, especially when it comes to issues for which we still have a number of more question marks than answers, the goal is really to have a debate to put the knowledge we have and the options we have on the table and look at those from not just the science angle but also the policy angle because co-designing the research agenda by taking into account the views and aspirations of stakeholders other than scientists is important to science. As much as listening to relevant and timely science advice is important to policy makers.

Toby Wardman: Yes, that’s very interesting. The role of the science brokering organization in helping to bring together a community to shape the research agenda. That’s a whole different area where science advice is needed, I guess quite quite apart from science advice for policy directly. There’s one last question I wanted to ask you and it’s, as it were, directly on behalf of our audience. I’m quite often asked people somehow imagine that I know the answer. I don’t know why. How can an individual scientist get involved in this world? So if you’re a scientist working on whatever topic somewhere in the world and you feel like you have something to offer to science advice at a global level, is there a way that you can do that? And I often find this question quite hard to answer. I mean, I know the answer at European level, but it’s quite complicated and quite unhelpful. Often I wonder whether you have any advice for listeners who might be in that situation.

Salvatore Aricò: So the International Science Council is trying to walk the talk on this notion of science engagement. And despite the fact that the IAC is a membership organization, as I mentioned at the beginning of the interview, its membership is made of national academies, international science unions. There also is a… you know I would say, I would almost call it a moral obligation to reach out to individual scientists and provide those interested and capable to do so with the opportunity to participate in the in the dynamics and the the the efforts related to science advice. The way we are doing that is and we are still testing that, but so far so good. Is by issuing a calls for expression of interest by individual scientists to participate in some of those science to policy efforts that the IC is conducting. One is, for example, a foresight on environmental priorities exercise that the IC is coordinating for the UN environment program. Another one is a study in which we are about to embark jointly with the World Health Organization on reduction of subjective well-being in young people or if you like, youth mental health together with the W.H.O.. So what we do basically and this is really new we have been doing this in the past few months is that we issue a call and the individual scientists have the opportunity to apply and be considered. And I’m afraid it’s on a pro bono basis for participating in those exercises which aim at providing science advice to policy on specific issues in some cases of a topical nature, in some other cases of a cross-cutting nature. For example, disaster risk reduction in the context of the Sendai strategy.

Toby Wardman: Okay, so scientists will hear about this how through their academies, through their own employers?

Salvatore Aricò: That’s correct. Through the national academies and the international scientific unions and also openly through the ISC website because we are not limiting ourselves to nominations by the members, but they can also be self nominations. So I would say if you have individual scientists interested in participating, of course being considered in the first place for and if retained selected, participating in those science advice to policy exercises, do send them to us.

Toby Wardman: Yeah, I’ll put the link to the website in the show notes for this episode and hope you get some interest. Well, this has been a great conversation and I appreciate your sharing your huge experience in this domain of science advice, which is clearly very important if not always at the forefront of our minds, those of us who work at less exalted levels.

Salvatore Aricò: Thank you very much for the opportunity. I have the sense that the discourse on science advice to policy is not just a discourse, it’s not a discourse anymore. It has really becoming a reality. And I very much appreciate this opportunity so that we can spread the message and make sure that science advice to policy and also for scientists to be able to take on board the the needs of policymakers become part of the mainstream.

Toby Wardman: Well, you’re most welcome. I hope so too.

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