The first session on the theme “A New Culture of Policy Making and Evidence-Based Decision-Making: Horizons and Challenges” at the Eighth Canadian Science Policy conference in Ottawa on 8-10 November 2016 will feature a panel organized by EIUI. Four members of the research team (Peter Wells, Kevin Quigley, Lee Wilson, and Suzuette Soomai), along with Chris Jennings, Chief of Policy, Strategic Planning and Operations Branch, Earth Sciences Sector at Natural Resources Canada, will participate in the session on “Improving ocean management: Critical insights about information pathways to strengthen evidence-based decision-making.” Ian Stewart, another EIUI team member, will moderate the panel.
The panel members will draw on research and public sector experience to discuss four questions about the processes that characterize how information moves from scientists to decision-makers at the science-policy interface:
- What critical enablers and barriers affect the use of marine environmental information?
- Given continuing advancements in scientific (natural and social) knowledge, how do decision makers identify and select relevant information?
- Given the growing number of communication methods, what role(s) do particular information pathways, such as social networks, play in marine environmental decision making?
- Given the federal government’s expressed commitment to science, how can federal science organizations best advance the inclusion of science in decision-making?
These questions are especially relevant in light of growing expectation that public policy decision making will be transparent and the increasing global attention being given to addressing communication challenges at the science-policy interface. The need to understand information pathways – production, communication, and use of information – cannot be overstated. Peter Wells will draw on experience in governmental and intergovernmental contexts to speak about state of the environment reporting. Suzuette Soomai will discuss enablers and barriers in the communication of scientific information for decision-making in fisheries management. Lee Wilson will discuss research findings about multi-sector networks in the developing tidal power industry in the Bay of Fundy. Kevin Quigley will outline how understanding of risk analyses aids in use of evidence in decision making, and Chris Jennings will speak about policy development from the perspective of his experience in a science-based department of government.
The panel aims to increase awareness and understanding of the significance of information in policy-making contexts. In addition, the insights of the speakers and discussion with the audience will offer recommendations for science advisors in promoting evidence-based decision-making and will highlight skills needed by public servants and non-governmental stakeholders for strengthening the use of evidence in decision-making.