June 21, 2013

Why Is It Important for Science and Policy to Be Connected?

Posted by Sam Brockway

From climate change to energy and water needs and the impacts from natural hazards, the challenges we face are growing more and more complex and the need for sustainable solutions more and more urgent. History tells us that scientific research and development can play an important role in solving these challenges, and in serving as a catalyst for economic growth, helping us to protect lives and property and raise environmental awareness. But if that research is conducted in a vacuum, and the results and lessons learned are not shared broadly, then the societal benefits will be significantly limited.carol finn_preferred

As scientists, we have a responsibility to make sure that policymakers understand the value of our science and have access to the best scientific knowledge available. Policy decisions that are informed by science are critically important in building a foundation for a sustainable future. For example:

          Understanding our changing climate and its impacts on everything from public health and safety to economic security can lead to ways to mitigate and adapt to the effects.

          Understanding the causes and behavior of natural disasters can help us to better manage the risk, protecting countless families and businesses.

          Understanding our long-term energy and water needs and the availability and viability of various supplies can help us to safely and sustainably manage these critical resources.

Recognizing the importance of this relationship, the overarching goal for AGU’s Science Policy Conference is to find ways to improve the critically important intersection between science and policy. We will do this by bringing together a diverse group of experts representing leading scientific research institutions, federal and state agency representatives, industry leaders, and NGOs to make connections, share information and experiences, and engage in a solutions-focused dialogue.

This societal relevance of geophysical research is clear, as is the important role it can play in informing successful policy decisions that will help shape to future of our country and our world. That is why a connection between science and policy is so important, and why AGU is committed to improving it for the benefit of humanity.

Carol Finn, President, American Geophysical Union