One of the key aims of many science dialogue projects is to influence public policy, but it is notoriously difficult to do so. We have great contacts and a realistic understanding of how to catch government policymakers' attentions.
Communicating Science to Environmental Policymakers - Research
The UK's Environment Agency, as part of a European SKEP network, were interested in finding out more about the factors that influenced whether or not particular areas of scientific research fed into policymaking. Working with partners at LTSL in Edinburgh and IVL in Stockholm, Think-Lab helped develop and analyse a series of case studies that tested current academic thinking in the area and identified a series of lessons for scientists and policymakers alike.
Embedding an Ecosystems Approach to policymaking
An Ecosystems Approach to policymaking is a way of looking at whole ecosystems, rather than just individual species or processes and for valuing the goods and services they provide. Defra has repsonsiblity for encouraging policymakers across and throughout the different tiers of government to take up the approach. This requires a significant change in thinking, language and action.
The policy team at Defra were keen that the evidence to show how this approach works was presented in a way that could be easily understood and used by themselves and their colleagues. Think-Lab was employed to distill the messages in the evidence research and to present the key findings to policymakers through a series of briefing notes and workshops.
The policymakers involved complimenting Think-Lab, not only on their communication skills, but on their deep understanding of the science and the policymaking process.
Dialogue into policy
The Royal Society's Science in Society programme looked at the issue of medical genetics in 2003, Think-Lab managed the 2003 National Forum which produced some interesting feedback of relevance to health policy. We worked with the Royal Society to produce a report for policymakers and using our political contacts and lobbying skills, we helped facilitate meetings with key officials and the then Secretary of State for Health.
The outputs of the Royal Society's Science in Society programme have formed a significant part of the 2003 Genetics White Paper.