Bridging the gap between science and policy

Springer Nature Group
By: Nicola Jones, Thu Sep 24 2020

Since 2015, the countries of the United Nations have been working to address 17 of the most difficult challenges facing humanity, with the aim of achieving a more peaceful and prosperous world by 2030. This week marks Global Goals Week 2020 - the week for action, awareness, and accountability for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Timed to coincide with the UN General Assembly - the aim of the week is to keep those goals and the work needed to do to achieve them, in the public eye. In 2020, Springer Nature is pleased to be a supporting partner once again. 

Science and learning are the cornerstones of progress, and publishing plays an integral part in both. One of the aims of the Springer Nature SDG Programme is to work with external partners to encourage and facilitate the use of scholarly research in policymaking to achieve the Goals. An organisation who shares our commitment to the integration of research and policy is the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). 

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the gaps in the current systems and existing mechanisms for the integration of research into policy. Scientific evidence continues to be sidelined in the global response to COVID-19 because it is not seen as crucial to developing appropriate policies. The need to bridge these gaps is more urgent than ever.

On 8th October 2020, Springer Nature and SDSN are bringing together a diverse group of experts who are well placed to consider solutions to these issues. Science for a Sustainable Future is a free online conference, featuring opening remarks from Jeffrey Sachs, President of SDSN and Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University and closing remarks from Magdalena Skipper, Editor-in-Chief of Nature and Jessica Espey, Senior Advisor to SDSN and Director of SDSN’s Thematic Research Network on Data and Statistics. Laura Helmuth, Editor-in-Chief of Scientific American will introduce the event.

We have assembled three globally-representative thematic panels of academics, researchers, practitioners and policymakers to explore how to improve science-policy integration in the areas of:

The panels will be framed around the questions of:

  • What mechanisms should we use to raise the profile of scientific opinion in international policy-making? What mechanisms could complement existing efforts, such as the UNSG’s Science Advisory Board and the IPCC?
  • What is and should be the role of research institutions, universities, industry, and other scientific and expert groups in shaping national sustainable development policy? What are the most useful national and local examples?
  • How can we foster the use of more and better data in national and international sustainable development policy-making?

The conference will also delve into issues raised in each of the thematic areas, looking at national and local examples of good practice and areas where connections could (and should) be improved.

The conference will run from 8am - 11am EDT / 1pm - 4pm BST / 2pm - 5pm CEST / 8pm - 11pm CST. You can find out more and sign up here: Science for a Sustainable Future.

The event will be preceded by a public call to action from Jeffrey Sachs and Magdalena Skipper, encouraging both researchers and policymakers to work more collaboratively and take notice of each others’ needs. We intend to solicit feedback on this initial statement, and the feedback and outcomes from the conference discussion will be developed into a white paper with concrete recommendations for moving forward.. 

Science for a Sustainable Future is set to be an essential forum for furthering the integration of scientific knowledge and evidence into national and international policy. 

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Nicola Jones

Author: Nicola Jones

Director, Springer Nature SDG Programme

Nicola is responsible for coordinating the publishing activity across Springer Nature where it relates to the UN SDGs, with the aim of bringing research that has the potential to help achieve the Goals to the attention of those best placed to implement it. In order to do this, she works with the editors and publishers across Springer Nature’s journals, books and other products and across all relevant disciplines to ensure that the approach is joined up, information is shared across departments and that all relevant colleagues are engaged with the programme. Nicola is passionate about the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration for solving complex global problems, and the need for solid research evidence to inform policy and practice.