Brussels, 28 Mar 2003
In a special edition of the IPTS (Institute for prospective technological studies) report, Isidoros Karatzas and Yves Dumont argue that a new form of cooperation between scientists and policy makers is needed to overcome public distrust of scientists and politicians and the challenges facing society today.
The special edition of the IPTS report has been compiled to assess the impact of scientific advice. The issue reflects upon the social responsibilities of scientific experts; communicating scientific advice to the public; public participation in decision making on science and technology; assessing the impact of scientific advice; and the impact of the European Research Advisory Board (EURAB).
In the editorial, Mr Karatzas and Mr Dumont outline the traditional relationship between scientists and policy makers as well as the reasons why this relationship must now be reassessed.
Traditionally, scientists are heavily involved in the first stage of providing advice to politicians, while their influence decreases towards the end of the process, which ultimately results in the design and implementation of policy. It is at this stage that other factors (social, cultural and financial) come into play, often leading to conflict between policy makers and scientists.
One recommendation made by Mr Karatzas and Mr Dumont is a change of culture leading to improved communication between actors. They suggest that knowledge be produced by 'science and society' in a process involving public negotiation and dialogue. This would lead to the settling of disputes towards the beginning of the process, and not at the end when a policy decision has been made, as is often the case currently.