SciCom & Partners’ Successful Scientific Session Proposals, ESOF 2018 Toulouse, 9 – 14 July.


This high-level panel bridges the 2017 launch of the Brussels Declaration (a unique, twenty-point blueprint for a new set of ethics & principles to inform work at the boundary between science, society and policy) to ongoing work towards its pan-African equivalent, the Cape Town Declaration to be launched at the World Science Forum 2021. The Brussels Declaration achieved over 50 million views in its first three months, making the case for a multi-disciplinary approach encouraging greater integrity and accountability among all stakeholders.

It brings together recommendations emanating from a series of 5 annual round-tables in which more than 350 individuals from 35 countries drafted concrete proposals and thought-leader papers. These were subject to further scrutiny during 25 symposia held at global conferences from 2012 – 2016, in which more than 3000 delegates examined their findings on ‘the science of science-policy-making’.

The Cape Town Africa-55 Process (2017 – 2021) takes a similar bottom-up approach involving the grass-roots with politicians, science advisers, chief scientific officers from industry, civil society leaders, medical doctors, social scientists, academics and science editors. Bringing their first findings for debate to ESOF, speakers aim to boost understanding of how power operates in science & society and explain why evidence plus dialogue rarely equals good decisions & laws.

They will argue that most policy decisions are informed by evidence provided by experts. All too often, who these experts are, how they are chosen and how reliable their advice really is, is open to question. The key to promoting public discourse, scientific clarity, policy implementation and ethical balance is not only greater transparency and scrutiny, but genuine inclusivity. Via real-life case-studies, this decadal-long joint panel will show that it is in all our interests that we benefit from ‘evidence-based policy-making’ rather than suffer ‘policy-biased evidence’.

Relevance of the selected approaches:

This timely and crucial debate will spotlight the significant positive shift taking place in local, national, regional and global policy-making, both in terms of public discourse, scientific evidence and policy implementation. From the perspective of ethical approaches towards fostering basic human dignity, greater stakeholder inclusion and overcoming gross access of influence inequalities, compassion for people and resolving their day-to-day problems must come before profit, before policy and certainly before peer-review. Nevertheless, much still needs to be done to challenge the way societies view policy-making and policy-makers and those who interact with them.

Co-organised by the Academy of Sciences of South Africa (ASSAf) & SciCom – Making Sense of Science.