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Horizon Futures Watch Workshop 3: Future of Science for Policy in Europe

Author

Emma Coroler

Sep 6, 2023

This blog post summarizes the dissemination event held for the 'Futures of Science for Policy in Europe ' project.

The third Horizon Futures Watch Workshop on the Future of Science for Policy in Europe took place on 28th June 2023. It began with a presentation by members of the Foresight on Demand Consortium, aiming to explore the future of science for policy and more specifically knowledge exchange processes between knowledge actors and policymakers, with the intention to produce scientifically informed policy in Europe. The presentation outlined scenarios rooted in developments, trends, and drivers that are currently underway providing a glimpse into potential characteristics that might define the landscape in the 2030s. The scenarios were developed around two key dimensions for the governance of science: the extent to which government directs science and the extent of stakeholder engagement in the shaping of scientific agendas. Drawing from previously identified trends such as Citizen Science, Open Science, Mission-driven research and innovation, and data-driven policy, the team identified five scenario narratives as shown below.


All scenarios, departed from trends already identified within the European R&I system and opened the floor for in-depth discussions concerning the future Science for Policy and policy governance. The discussion that ensued between the speakers and the workshop participants raised points about the future of science for policy and the potential evolution of current R&I policy:


Foresight and Science for Policy: Certain scenarios speculated that Foresight will not, in the future, be practiced as it was before – as a response to crises – but will be integrated in political agenda setting for R&I. This could render traditional Science for Policy redundant, as it could become an intrinsic element of policy initiatives. In this setting, scientific advice would be co-created through diverse frameworks rather than coming from a single institutionalized source.


Mapping Scenarios: During the discussions, the intricate nature of European R&I systems was highlighted. Participants proposed that Member States be encouraged to undertake similar scenario-building exercises, which can have the benefit of drawing all relevant stakeholders around the table. This approach could enable the creation of viable roadmaps based on these scenarios and assess the alignment of these streams with National and European initiatives.


Addressing Systemic Failures in Science and Democracy: The discussion also touched upon the democratization of scientific processes leading to considerations about cultivating openness and transparency and encouraging the multidisciplinary nature and the involvement of actors beyond just the scientific realm. Bio Agora (https://bioagora.eu/), for example, which aims to develop the Science Service for European Research and Biodiversity Policy Making, actively contributes to breaking the silo thinking in science, society and policy, and showcased its approach in a subsequent presentation. Similarly, the PHIRI project (Population Health and Research Infrastructure, https://www.phiri.eu/) presented its approach for best gathering available evidence for research on health and well-being of populations impacted by Covid-19. Through the input gathered from various stakeholders in different member states, PHIRI showcased how they adopted a multi-stakeholder approach to develop scenarios that are insightful for understanding the challenges for public health in the short and long term using the expertise of people from diverse backgrounds.


Indeed, audience feedback suggested broadening the scope of the prospective analysis conducted on the Future of Science for Policy. This expansion could encompass the involvement and contributions of stakeholders in policy governance who extend beyond the scientific community. This approach aims to achieve a more comprehensive and systemic understanding of the subject matter.


The project presentations further led to insightful conversations on the strategic significance of Foresight and collaborative governance methods as valuable aspects for addressing deliberative issues, including:


o The concept of Temporality: While it is essential to strive for a better understanding of the future, equal emphasis should be placed on comprehending the present. As Henk Hilderink, Public Health Foresight Expert at the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) said: "If we wait until we understand what the present is, then we are never going to look at the future”.


o Collaborative governance methods: Discussions revolved around identifying the appropriate Collaborative Governance Practices. This entails a keen focus on leveraging Emerging Technologies to facilitate methods conducive to achieving collaborative multilevel governance.





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