Scientific Assessments to Facilitate Deliberative Policy Learning
20 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2016
Date Written: December 2016
Putting the recently adopted global Sustainable Development Goals or the Paris Agreement on international climate policy into action will require careful policy choices. Appropriately informing decision-makers about longer-term, wicked policy issues remains a considerable challenge for the scientific community. Typically, these vital policy issues are highly uncertain, value-laden and disputed, and affect multiple temporal and spatial scales, governance levels, policy fields, and socioeconomic contexts simultaneously. In light of this, science-policy interfaces should help facilitate learning processes and open deliberation among all actors involved about potentially acceptable policy pathways. For this purpose, science-policy interfaces must strive to foster some enabling conditions: (1) “representation” in terms of engaging with diverse stakeholders (including experts) and acknowledging divergent viewpoints; (2) “empowerment” of underrepresented societal groups by co-developing and integrating policy scenarios that reflect their specific knowledge systems and worldviews; (3) “capacity building” regarding methods and skills for integration and synthesis, as well as through the provision of knowledge synthesis about the policy solution space; and (4) “spaces for deliberation”, facilitating direct interaction between different stakeholders, including governments and scientists. We argue that integrated, multi-stakeholder, scientific assessment processes — particularly the collaborative assessments of policy alternatives and their various implications — offer potential advantages in this regard, compared with alternatives for bridging scientific expertise and public policy. This article is part of a collection on scientific advice to governments.
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