ESAF meeting on scientific advice during the COVID-19 crisis
On Wednesday 24 June 2020, the European Science Advisors Forum (ESAF) organized a virtual meeting in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The meeting focused on lessons that can be learned from the crisis for providing strategic scientific advice.
In addition to ESAF members and partners, virologist Peter Piot also joined in the meeting, sharing his reflections based on his role as a special advisor to the President of the European Commission. Professor Pearl Dykstra presented a statement by the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors, prepared in collaboration with Peter Piot and the European Group of Ethics in Science and New Technologies. The statement contains several best practices for scientific advisors, including the importance of multidisciplinary advice and transparency about the uncertainty that is intrinsic to a pandemic such as the coronavirus crisis.
Importance of reflection and cooperation
All attendees underscored the importance of cooperation and the sharing of knowledge, as well as the range of challenges associated with providing scientific advice in times of crisis. It is essential to reflect on what can be learned while events are still fresh in everyone’s memory and have not yet been influenced by the rationalizations that come with hindsight. To bolster the sharing of knowledge, the Forum intends to meet again digitally in the autumn for further discussions on this subject.
The European Science Advisors Forum is a platform of European science-based strategic advisors who promote and facilitate the use of evidence-based policy in their countries. The members of ESAF share relevant information, enhancing the exchange of best practices and building sustainable capacity and capability across a range of different national science advisory organizations and systems in Europe. Exchanges like these strengthen the international network and, at the same time, contribute to the further refinement of the tasks and methods in the countries themselves.
The Netherlands was the coordinating country in recent years, represented by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and the Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR). Estonia will take over on 1 July 2020.