Scientization of democracy -the science & policy nexus

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“Unless scientists and policymakers learn to work together effectively, both domains will suffer.” – Lewis M. Branscomb

What role does science play in the government? What is the role of science in relation to policymaking? Democratic societies make policies and decisions based on various inputs, including, economic considerations, societal standards, general public views, and the principles and vision of the government of the day. As we enter the 21st century, policy making is taking place in a decidedly dynamic environment. The emergence of the knowledge-based society has emphasized the significance of sound Science Advice as a key input to policy formulation. In an environment which is persistently becoming more complex, ministers, member of parliaments and other policymakers are anticipated to presume scientific evidence and judgment when designing policies.

Whatever the issue may be – pressure on the supply of energy, food and water, health, security, climate change, genetically modified crops, biological and chemical weapons, biosafety and biomedicine, cybercrime, cyber-terrorism, civil use of nuclear power – scientific expertise present an elemental root for policymaking. Science-based policymaking has grown ever more significant in recent years alone with the dramatic increase in the complexity and uncertainty of the ways in which science and technology interact with society. As the world around us becomes increasingly complex, disruptive technologies and social innovations are changing our way of life at an accelerating speed, and policymaking is not immune to this. Therefore, decision-making increasingly depends on advice given by science and technical experts in order to deliver the most innovative and effective policies.

Thanks to modern information and communication technologies, evidence can now be delivered in real time and from a multitude of sources. This also creates new opportunities for the involvement of citizens in policymaking. Scientific advice plays an important role in the development of policies is most developed countries. In Pakistan, scientific experts should be involved in providing advice not only on SandT but also, regulatory or general policies. Since, policymakers require sound scientific information if they are to make decisions. In this regards, the government may perform the following roles:

Government should establish effective mechanisms for ensuring appropriate and timely scientific advice and define clear and transparent frameworks and rules of procedure for their advisory processes and mechanisms.

Government should implement measures that build societal trust in science for policymaking and work with international organizations to ensure coherence between national and international scientific advisory mechanisms related to complex global challenges.

Government should take a strategic approach to the prioritization, accessing, resourcing and delivery of science and technology and ensure effective knowledge transfer.

Government should continue its efforts to strengthen good governance, with the emphasis on scientific development and give priority to fight against corruption and nepotism throughout National STandI policy.

Indeed, science in an extensive array of fields is genuinely built into the everyday operations of todays government. Science-based policymaking has grown ever more important in both developed and developing states, since, living standards, employment and quality of life depend progressively on the exploitation of investment in scientific knowledge. The rapid developments of the modern world in regard to technical and technological capabilities results in a particularly high demand for well-informed political decision-making. Likewise, people rightly expect politicians to be honest with facts when they decide about public policies and future scenarios.

Consequently, in Pakistan, there is an escalating obligation from policymakers for science advice because scientific evidence may help to manage risks and facilitate them to formulate better and effective regulatory and legislative decisions. This is why scientific knowledge and evidence is an essential prerequisite in policy processes, and policy makers must duly respect advice from scientific community. Installing a proper framework for ensuring the integrity and trust in science is becoming an urgent task for policymakers in country. In doing so, it will add not only to the history of ingenuity but also to the thoughts of democratic system.


Published in: Volume 07 Issue 17

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