Category Archives: News

New WRR publication: Mission AI. The New System Technology

The Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) and the international publisher Springer have published: ‘Mission AI. The New System Technology’. This Open Access book can be downloaded free of charge (as an ebook) or can be ordered as a deluxe hardcover book via the Springer website.

The impact of Artificial intelligence
The WRR states Artificial Intelligence (AI) should be considered a system technology, similar to the steam engine, electricity, the combustion engine and computer. Taking this approach helps to look beyond the issues of the day and instead make long-term recommendations about how AI can be embedded in society. By viewing AI as a system technology, drawing analogies and learning lessons from other similar technologies, it is possible to gain some insight into the impact of AI. At this level, the recommendations are of value to governments in other countries as well.

Springer Book Series: Research for Policy
In this series, we publish internationally relevant studies of the Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy. Many of the cross-cutting issues that affect Dutch policymaking, also challenge other Western countries or international bodies. By publishing these studies in this international open access scientific series, we hope that our analyses and insights can contribute to the policy debate in other countries.
More information about the Springer Series can be obtained here.

About the WRR
The Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) is an independent advisory body for government policy. The task of the WRR is to advise the Dutch government and Parliament on strategic issues that are likely to have important political and societal consequences. More information about the WRR can be obtained here.

Recently published by WRR and Springer: Migration Diversity and Social Cohesion. Reassessing the Dutch Policy Agenda

A new book from the Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) and the international publisher Springer: ‘Migration Diversity and Social Cohesion. Reassessing the Dutch Policy Agenda’. This Open Access book can be downloaded free of charge (as an ebook) or can be ordered as a hardcover book via the Springer website.

Strategic direction for migration policy
Policymakers across Western-Europe have grappled with how to respond to the increasing diversity in cities, towns and neighbourhoods, resulting in a plethora of policy initiatives, some more effective than others. This book shows what could work. It brings together a large amount of research and provides evidence-based policy recommendations. For policymakers, this book offers both a sense of strategic direction and more specific, actionable advice. The report is broad in that it covers many different policy areas that touch on issues of diversity, from immigration policy to education and labour policy. It will be of benefit to all those making policy for a country of immigration.

Springer Book Series: Research for Policy
In this series, we publish internationally relevant studies of the Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy. Many of the cross-cutting issues that affect Dutch policymaking, also challenge other Western countries or international bodies. By publishing these studies in this international open access scientific series, we hope that our analyses and insights can contribute to the policy debate in other countries.

More information about the Springer Series can be obtained here.

 About the WRR

The Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) is an independent advisory body for government policy. The task of the WRR is to advise the Dutch government and Parliament on strategic issues that are likely to have important political and societal consequences. More information about the WRR can be obtained here.

ESAF Annual Meeting 2022 (ESAF-8) „The role of science advice in rebuilding the society“

Date: 29–30 November (Starting time 14:30, 29 November; ending time 13:30, 30 November)

Venue: Research Council of Lithuania, Gedimino pr. 3, 01103 Vilnius

 

PROGRAMME

Moderator Prof. Tarmo Soomere, Chair of ESAF, President of Estonian Academy of Sciences

  NOVEMBER 29
15:00 Opening and introductions
Jacques Verraes, European Commission, DG Research & Innovation
Prof. Romas Baronas, Chairman of the Research Council of Lithuania
Prof. Jūras Banys, President of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences
Facts and figures about the Research Council of Lithuania: interplay of society, scientists, government and politicians. Dr Reda Cimmperman, Scientific Secretary, Research Council of Lithuania
15:35 Session 1. The role of science advice in rebuilding the society
  Introduction to the topic.
Prof. Tarmo Soomere, Chair of ESAF, President of Estonian Academy of Sciences
  Prof. Da-Chuan Cheng, Director of Science and Technology Division, the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania
  How to advise your government on the challenges of a tilting world order?
Anne-Greet Keizer, Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR)
16:35 Break
16:50 Keynote.
Additional material “Action Steps for Rebuilding Ukraine’s Science, Research, and Innovation”.
Vaughan Turekian, Executive Director Policy and Global Affairs;
Franklin Carrero-Martinez, Senior Director, Global Sustainability and Development & Science and Technology for Sustainability Policy and Global Affairs, U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
17:20 Independent expert report: Strategic crisis management in the EU
Dr Maarja Kruusmaa, member of the EC Group of Chief Scientific Advisors, member of the Estonian Academy of Sciences
17:35 Keynote. Science in Ukraine: survive, transform, take the lead (slides).
Dr Oleksiy Kolezhuk, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine
18:05 Roundtable discussion: How can ESAF collectively contribute to the rebuilding of societies
19:00 Dinner
  NOVEMBER 30
10:00 Session 2. Recent developments
  Science for policy: developments in Finland
Dr Jaakko Kuosmanen, Finnish Academy of Sciences
10:40 Session 3. The mandate and the future of ESAF
  Introduction of European Commission Staff Working Document: Supporting and connecting policymaking in the Member States with scientific research
Kristian Krieger, European Commission, Joint Research Centre;
Jacques Verraes, European Commission, DG Research & Innovation
11:35 Break
11:50 Changes in ESAF ToR
Prof. Tarmo Soomere, Chair of ESAF, President of Estonian Academy of Sciences
12:10 Roundtable discussion
12:30-15:45 AOB and Conclusions
Prof. Tarmo Soomere, Chair of ESAF, President of Estonian Academy of Sciences

 

ESAF General Assembly 2021 (ESAF-7) “From local advice to global benefit”

ESAF General Assembly 2021 (ESAF-7) “From local advice to global benefit” took place place from November 30 to December 1, at the Estonian Academy of Sciences, Tallinn, Estonia as a hybrid event.

Background: The recent developments and challenges in the science advice ecosystem for policy include inter alia aspects such as (i) success of ad hoc groups, (ii) issues of legislation, mandate, and openness/embargo of provided advice, (iii) bottlenecks of sharing of operational advice between countries, (iv) links to sectorial and EU-level science advice.

It is time to discuss how to bind together country-scale advice with the benefit on regional and continent level. It is natural that governments listen first of all their own scientists, but the knowledge base of these scientists is global. There is no national mathematics or local pandemic. They are global but must be implemented or mitigated in local conditions. It is time to ask questions, such as: Where are the bottlenecks in these aspects? What could we do to reach better performance for everybody? How should we frame the role of ESAF in this context?

DAY 1, 30 November

14:30–15:00 Arrival, welcome coffee, free discussion
15:00–15:20 Opening and introductions

  • Jacques Verraes, Deputy and Acting head of Unit “Science Policy, Advice and Ethics”
  • Prof Tarmo Soomere, Chair of ESAF, President of Estonian Academy of Sciences

15:20–17:10 Session 1: Emerging science for policy ecosystem

  • 15:20–15:40 Connecting advice on national and EU level. The role of the EC Group of Chief Scientific Advisors. Prof. Nicole Grobert, Chair of GCSA, University of Oxford
  • 15:40–16:00 Strengthening the European science advice ecosystem and ESAF’s role in it. Jacques Verraes, Deputy and Acting head of Unit “Science Policy, Advice and Ethics”
  • 16:00–16:10 Convenience break
  • 16:10–16:50 Mapping and supporting diverse ecosystems within EU Member States. David Mair, Lene Topp, Lorenzo Melchor & Kristian Krieger, Joint Research Centre, European Commission. Presentation file.
  • 16:50–17:10 Discussion in break-out groups: ESAF as the connecting link

17:10–17:25 Break

17:25–19:10 Session 2: Lessons and challenges

  • 17:25–17:45 Time to take stock: lessons for science advice in future crises. – Prof. Corien Prins. The Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy. Presentation file. Presentation video.
  • 17:45–18:00 Towards connectivity of national advice systems: experience from ESAF – Prof. Tarmo Soomere, President of the Estonian Academy of Sciences, ESAF Chair
  • 18:00–18:20 Creating connections and networks in support of evidence-informed policymaking in Europe – David Mair, Lene Topp, Lorenzo Melchor & Kristian Krieger, Joint Research Centre, European Commission
  • 18:20–18:35 International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA) in European ecosystem of science advice – Kristiann Allen, Executive Secretary, INGSA. Presentation file.
  • 18:35–18:55 Discussion in break-out groups: The future of ESAF in the science advice ecosystem.
  • 18:55–19:10 Reflections from breakup groups & wrap-up

20:00 Dinner at restaurant “Pegasus” (address: Harju 1, Tallinn) (sorry, only for the participants in Tallinn 🙂 )

DAY 2, 1 December

9:30–10:00 Morning Coffee
10:00–12:30 Session 3: Steps into future

  • 10:00–10:20 Experimental development of national science advice: The case of SOFI (Science Advice Initiative of Finland). Jaakko Kuosmanen, Finnish Academy of Science and Letters. Presentation file. Presentation video.
  • 10:20–10:40 The potential benefits of Trans-European collaboration in a network of experienced national science advisors within specific knowledge areas. Niels Halberg, Director of Danish Centre for Food and Agriculture. Presentation file.
  • 10:40–11:00 Central challenges to evidence informed policy making: The role of values and identities. David Mair & Mario Scharfbillig, Joint Research Centre, European Commission. Presentation file.
  • 11:00–11:10 Convenience break
  • 11:10–11:30 Scientific advice during Covid-19 pandemic in Estonia: combining local data with global knowledge, Prof. Krista Fischer, COVID-19 science advisory board of Estonia. Presentation file.
  • 11:30–11:50 Developing the system of scientific advisers in Estonian ministries. Liina Eek, Estonian Research Council. Presentation file.
  • 11:50–12:10 European missions: how to integrate national research and science-based innovation programs to realize the expectations and challenges on the European and National level. Prof. Ričardas Rotomskis, Research Council of Lithuania. Presentation file.

12:10–12:20 AOB and Conclusions
12:20–13:20 Lunch

New WRR publication: Preparing for Digital Disruption

The Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) and the international publisher Springer have published: ‘Preparing for Digital Disruption’. This Open Access book can be downloaded free of charge (as an ebook) or can be ordered as a deluxe hardcover book via the Springer website.

Digital Disruption

This book offers an analysis of why preparations for digital disruption should become a stated goal of security policy and policies that aim to safeguard the continuity of critical infrastructure. The increasing use of digital technology implies new and significant vulnerabilities for our society. However, it is striking that almost all cyber-security measures taken by governments, international bodies and other major players are aimed at preventing incidents. But there is no such thing as total digital security. Whether inside or outside the digital domain, incidents can and will occur and may lead to disruption. While a raft of provisions, crisis contingency plans and legal regulations are in place to deal with the possibility of incidents in the ‘real world’, no equivalence exists for the digital domain and digital disruption. Hence, this book uniquely discusses several specific policy measures government and businesses should take in order to be better prepared to deal with a digital disruption and prevent further escalation.

Springer Book Series: Research for Policy

In this series, we publish internationally relevant studies of the Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy. Many of the cross-cutting issues that affect Dutch policymaking, also challenge other Western countries or international bodies. By publishing these studies in this international open access scientific series, we hope that our analyses and insights can contribute to the policy debate in other countries.

More information about the Springer Series can be obtained here.

About the WRR

The Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) is an independent advisory body for government policy. The task of the WRR is to advise the Dutch government and Parliament on strategic issues that are likely to have important political and societal consequences. More information about the WRR can be obtained here.

New WRR publication: Acquiring, assessing and weighing. The use of knowledge in policy advice in times of crisis

Essay “Acquiring, assessing and weighing. The use of knowledge in policy advice in times of crisis”.

Preparing for the next crisis means being aware that it will inevitably come. This is the conclusion drawn by the Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR), the Health Council of the Netherlands (GR) and the Council for Public Administration (ROB).

The role of scientific advisors in crisis situations
In crisis situations, scientific advisors play an essential role in the timely acquisition and interpretation of relevant knowledge. It is then the task of politicians and administrators to assess and weigh the knowledge and, on that basis, to decide how to tackle the crisis. The essay highlights three key lessons:

  1. Adaptivity: crises require politicians, administrators and advisory bodies to demonstrate adaptability. During a crisis, scientific advisors can proactively formulate questions and provide guidance to strike upon answers that will help mitigate the crisis. In addition, they can provide policymakers with greater manoeuvrability by looking further ahead.
  2. Multidisciplinarity: Advisory boards are composed of different scientific disciplines that can share areas of overlap, but that can also sometimes clash. It is absolutely vital in a crisis in which far-reaching decisions must be made that the full range of perspectives receive due consideration. This requires practice, which can be achieved when advisory bodies endeavour to collaborate more often when crises are not at hand.
  3. Division of responsibility: tasks and responsibilities are distributed between science, advice and decision-making. Advisory bodies should guard against these responsibilities becoming too intertwined. This becomes particularly vital the longer the crisis persists and the more prominent the role of politics and governance becomes.

The essay is the result of a conference convened by the three bodies to examine the role of knowledge in dealing with an acute, chronic or predicted crisis. During the conference, scientists from a range of disciplines, politicians and administrators discussed these issues.

About the WRR
The Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) is an independent advisory body for government policy. The task of the WRR is to advise the Dutch government and Parliament on strategic issues that are likely to have important political and societal consequences. More information about the WRR can be obtained here.

New WRR publication “Money and debt: The public role of banks”

The Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) and the international publisher Springer have published: Money and Debt: The Public Role of Banks. This Open Access book can be downloaded free of charge (as an ebook) or can be ordered as a deluxe hardcover book via the Springer website.

An analysis of banks’ role in money creation

This book offers a thorough yet very accessible analysis of the functioning of our current financial-monetary system. While we focus on the situation in the Netherlands, it contains insights that should be of interest to policy-makers and researchers in other (EU) countries and at the EU level:

  • We explain how money creation works, showing how it is inherently linked to the creation of debt;
  • We show that in our current system money and debt can more easily get out of hand; and
  • We argue that due to banks’ central role in money creation and their impact on financial stability has given banks (and particularly systemically important banks) a quasi-public status.

An evaluation of monetary reform

Money and Debt is a translation of a report written in response to a formal request by the Dutch government to investigate the advantages and disadvantages of alternative monetary systems. This request was made after a citizens’ initiative (Ons Geld) had successfully called for a public debate on monetary reform. In this book:

  • We systematically evaluate proposals for fundamental monetary reform, in particular the citizens’ initiative’s idea of a ‘sovereign money system’ in which money and credit are separated;
  • We argue that such an alternative system in theory would not necessarily be preferable to our current system, and would introduce many practical problems; 
  • We argue that the sovereign money system nevertheless exposes several key flaws in our current system, and contains clues for less sweeping, but still significant reforms.

Policy recommendations

The book contains several policy recommendations to address the excessive growth of debt and the public dimension of banks, including:

  • We argue that alternative payment options such as Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) can contribute to financial stability and safeguard money as a public good;
  • We suggest to take more direct action to reduce the dominance of the systemically important banks, while supporting smaller institutions and newcomers;
  • We propose to level the playing field between equity and debt finance in national tax policies to limit excessive incentives to go into debt;
  • We call on policy-makers to strengthen the EU’s macroprudential policy framework, which specifically target systemic risks, and to better align it with the ECB’s monetary policy;
  • We stress the importance of taking losses in a timely manner after a crisis, as it creates room for recovery.
  • We propose to investigate the viability of a mandatory general recapitalization of banks after a crisis to facilitate a swift recovery;
  • We argue that the public dimension of the banking sector must be better safeguarded, in particular by better incorporating societal interests in banks’ corporate governance policies.
  • We suggest to improve citizens’ ‘exit’ and ‘voice’ options, by providing an alternative payment and saving option and by ensuring that both banks and supervisors pay more attention to citizens’ ideas and expectations.

Follow-up studies

This book has contributed to Dutch debate on reforms to the banking sector, and has for example led to studies on Central Bank Digital Currency by the Dutch central bank (DNB) and by the Dutch Parliament (available only in Dutch). In its formal response to the Dutch Parliament, the government acknowledged the importance of the report and its analysis and welcomed many of the recommendations. Additionally, Members of Parliament of both the House of Representatives and the Senate discussed the report with the authors, the citizens’ initiative and other financial sector stakeholders. To further facilitate the transmission of our ideas, the authors of the report are currently working on a shorter follow-up study. In due time we hope to also send you this study.

Springer Book Series: Research for Policy

In this series, we publish internationally relevant studies of the Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy. Many of the cross-cutting issues that affect Dutch policymaking, also challenge other Western countries or international bodies. By publishing these studies in this international open access scientific series, we hope that our analyses and insights can contribute to the policy debate in other countries.

More information about the Springer Series can be obtained here.

About the WRR

The Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) is an independent advisory body for government policy. The task of the WRR is to advise the Dutch government and Parliament on strategic issues that are likely to have important political and societal consequences. More information about the WRR can be obtained here.

Joint webinar addresses the strengths of different national and regional science advice systems in Europa. June 17, 2021

ESAF (European Science Advisors Forum) and SAPEA (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies) will organize a joint webinar that addresses strengths of different national and regional science advice systems in Europa on 17 June, 15:00–17:00 CEST. The webinar will be held in Zoom. For joining please use the link.

This event is meant inter alia to mark that Antonio Loprieno, the president of the federation of European academies of science ALLEA, will take over the chairmanship of SAPEA from 15 June 2021. It is thus particularly convenient time for ESAF and SAPEA to discuss strong sides of different versions of science advice systems in Europa, and to search for common basis for cooperation.

Advice systems in different countries are based on greatly different institutions (chief scientist office, research council, academy of sciences, government officer, or single expert). On the one hand, all such systems have their strong sides that could be illuminating to others. On the other hand, there is no fit-for-all solution and diversity of systems of science advice is an extremely valuable asset.

Agenda

14:50–15:00 Login to the Zoom
15:00–15:05 Opening words.
Tarmo Soomere, ESAF chairman and Antonio Loprieno, SAPEA chairman
15:05–15:10Welcome.
Jacques Verraes, acting Head of Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM) unit, the European Commission
15:10–15:15Welcome.
Prof Nicole Grobert, the Chair and Prof Nebojsa Nakicenovic, the Deputy Chair of the Group of Chief Science Advisors (GCSA) to the European Commission
15:15–15:35SAPEA: how to make European scientists become advisors
Prof Antonio Loprieno, President of ALLEA and chairman of SAPEA
15:35–15:50National science advice system based on chief scientist’s office.
Prof Peter Halligan, ESAF, Chief Scientist to Wales
15:50–16:05National science advice routine in Spain.
Prof Enric Banda, ESAF, Spanish Advisory Council on Science, Technology and Innovation
16:05–16:20Sectorial science advice systems: an example in the field of food and agriculture.
Dr Niels Halberg, Danish Centre for Food and Agriculture
16:20–16:35Insight into national science advice systems in Europa.
Kristian Krieger, Unit H1: Knowledge for Policy (Concepts and Methods), Joint Research Centre of the European Commission
16:35–16:55Strength via diversity: Discussion on developing resilience of national and regional science advice in Europa
16:55–17:00 Wrap-up and closing

JRC online workshop “Science for policymaking in Latvia”. May 19, 2021

On May 19, 2021 (13h30–16h30 CET) the JRC is organising a workshop on “Science for policymaking in Latvia”. Deadline for registration: 9 May.

The workshop aims at bringing together professionals from national, regional and local governments and public administrations, the scientific community, Academies of Science, and other organisations with an interest and experience in bringing scientific knowledge into the policymaking process at all governance levels.

Concretely, the workshop provides a mix of plenary interventions and highly interactive break-out groups that aim at understanding what works (and what does not), for what reasons, and how can we improve the eco-system of science for policy in Latvia.

Seminar is a part of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre’s project “Strengthening and connecting eco-systems of science for policy”.