Science-policy dynamic vital to environmental politics

A new paper from the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research - Oslo (CICERO) explores the difficult relationship between environmental science and policy-making.


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CICERO Working Paper 1999:3 “Science-policy interaction in the global greenhouse Institutional design and institutional performance in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)” explores the nature and dynamics of science–policy interaction and the extent to which and how institutional arrangements may be used as instruments for enhancing the effectiveness of the dialogue.

Scientific knowledge plays an increasingly pivotal role in policy making. But that knowledge is not always available, and when it is, it comes in a technical form which cannot be readily “used” in the political sphere, says CICERO. Thus, for scientific knowledge to be applicable in policy-making, it needs to be interpreted and “translated” – transformed – into a form in which it may serve as a premise for policy choice.

Science–policy interaction is difficult and demanding because of its immanent tension between impartiality and disinterestedness on the one hand, and strategic behaviour and interest realisation on the other, says the paper.

This tension is generated by the interaction between two distinctively different systems of behaviour. While science (ideally) is conceived of as a truth-seeking endeavour – whose norms and guidelines for behaviour are directed towards the generation of “objective” and disinterested knowledge – politics constitutes a system for the generation of (collective) decisions, where behaviour is directed towards the realisation of (individual) rational interests in these decisions.

The paper can be read online by following the link below.

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