Monday, October 26, 2015

22 October 2015: "Seminar on feedback into policy-making" in Brussels

On 22 October 2015 the EU Directorate-General for Research and Innovation organized a "Seminar on feedback into policy-making" in Brussels for employees of the EU commission  interested in science and its interaction with policy-making. It had been noticed that the EU-demand for "stakeholder-interaction", which is ubiquituous  in recent EU projects, is not really seriously implemented by many but in many cases a mere lip-service.

For gaining a better understanding of the problem, the options and pitfalls, a series of seminar was organized, with the one on 22 October being the latest. Unfortunately, Ottmar Edenhofer had to cancel his participation on shortest notice because of sickness, but his transparencies were shown and briefly discussed.

My own presentation "Climate  Change as a regional challenge:the role of science" dealt with the regional challenge of adaptation to climate change and the issue of knowledge competition. My list of conclusions was this

•Climate change  is a „constructed“ issue.
•Different constructions interact and compete.
•One class of constructions is scientific.
•Another class of constructions is cultural, in particular maintained and transformed by the media and the Zeitgeist.
•Climate science operates in a post-normal situation, which goes along with politicizing science, and scientizing politics.
•Public opinion and scientific understanding do not converge.
•Climate science needs to reflect upon its role and function.
•Precise language should be used, no more “the science is settled”, no cavalier usage of the term “predictions”, when “projections” are meant.
•Climate Science needs to offer “Climate Service”, which includes the establishment of a dialogue with the public (direct or via media) and stakeholders –recognizing the socio-cultural dynamics of the issue.
•Climate service must take into account competing alternative knowledge claims.
•Climate Service should adhere to the principle of sustainability – building trust by avoiding overselling and being explicit in spelling out contested issues.
•Climate Service is more than providing data to mostly anonymous clients; direct interaction is in many cases needed.

The content was organized like this

  (I) The issue of non-avoided anthropogenic climate change and the   need for adaptation
  (II) Knowledge competition and the role of science
2. Regional and local climate service
  (a) Dialogue platforms
   – understanding communication issues [prediction vs. projection]
  - knowledge competition [the storm issue]
  - need of social sciences [not (only) economy]
  (b) Data provision
  - homogeneity [the issue of manifestation]
  - hindcasts and projections;
  - assessment of recent change:: detection (of need of external driver), attribution (of plausible external drivers)
  (c) Knowledge assessment reports
  - IPCC, BACC, etc.
  - not “best” knowledge, but topology of knowledge;
  - recognition of “consensus-trap”
3. Conclusion
  - regional climate service needed / mostly on adaptation
  - social sciences needed
  - Example: coastal defense advice