“We need to encourage ministers to act on the state of scientific knowledge”

LThe simultaneous economic, social, environmental and health crisis facing the world challenges us and makes us think. Not just about our lack of preparation, our amnesia, or the slowness of our collective responses. Certainly not in the most difficult times by running to the pilots with your finger on the controls.

Because these crises have been building for decades, despite warnings. They force us to rethink the determinants of public action so that the long term ceases to be sacrificed on the altar of the short term. Understanding the sequence of SARS-CoV-2 waves, documenting humanity’s role in climate change and biodiversity collapse, or documenting widening social inequality are some of the issues that the human, social and experimental sciences or technologies are targeting. Discoveries and tools for the future. If the scientific field is not meant to replace the political field, it can still shine a light as society moves forward.

For this to happen, these two fields, traditionally more distant than the political and economic fields, must meet. Thus, the governments of certain countries have equipped themselves with a “Chief Scientific Adviser”, a high-level scientist whose full mission is to establish daily proximity between academic and political circles and to create a demanding relationship of trust between them.

Scientific advisors in each ministry

This person relies on the academic community to define the scope of possible actions compatible with the state of scientific knowledge and to explain its relevance to political leaders and the public. To ensure the independence of its speech, it is not integrated into the executive power and does not participate in decisions that are the responsibility of political leaders. This positioning contrasts with the advisors of French ministers or the president, shadowy figures who are integrated into decision-making. It is also inconsistent with the position of “higher science adviser” proposed in the Gillet report to the Minister for Higher Education and Research in July, whose main mission relates to the national research strategy.

An association of about thirty French academic learned societies has recently proposed the creation of a scientific advisor position to the French government with four main missions.

Source: Le Monde

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