To improve the impact of our work, after issuing a publication, the WRR gives presentations, participates in meetings and provides additional explanation on recommendations.
In the past, several WRR publications have had visible impact on government policy. One recent example is a report entitled Why knowing what to do is not enough. In this study, the WRR advises the Dutch government to take a realistic approach to the mental capacities of individuals when designing rules and institutions. Policymakers tend to assume that the government need only provide people with clear information and that, once properly informed, they will automatically do the right thing. As is becoming increasingly obvious, however, this is not how it works in reality. By taking all of the latest psychological insights into account, this report presents a more realistic perspective on self-reliance, and it provides government officials with guidelines for designing rules and institutions that allow for the natural limitations in people’s ‘capacity to act’. In its formal response in a Memorandum to Parliament, the government committed to embracing a more realistic approach and announced that new policies are to be subjected to a ‘capacity to act test’.
A second example of the impact of the WRR is the study entitled Navigating and anticipating in uncertain times, which was written in collaboration with the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). It was published at the beginning of autumn in 2021, when most citizens and policymakers seemed to believe that the COVID-19 pandemic was mostly behind us and that we could return to ‘normal’ daily life. By presenting five scenarios for the possible course of the pandemic, the WRR and KNAW aimed to inspire the government to prepare for the possibility that we will be living with coronavirus for years to come. Since its publication, the study has been used by the Dutch head of infection control to inform Parliament and the public of the long-term prospects for COVID-19, it has been discussed in major national newspapers and, upon encouragement by Parliament, the government has committed itself to an official reaction.