Short and swift – Equipping policy-makers with regional science

Short and swift – Equipping policy-makers with regional science

Author: Tiffany Straza – United Nations Environment Programme, Kenya, Samoa

Tommy Moore – Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP)
Sefanaia Nawadra – UN Environment
Nanette Woonton – Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP)

In small countries and particularly in developing regions, national staff have broad areas of responsibility and limited time or training to incorporate scientific findings. Science advisory councils are a rarity and a luxury. Competition for the attention of policy-makers places great demands on the perceived quality of sources, type of information, and mode of presentation.

We present the case of assistance provided during the Pacific regional preparations for the first United Nations Ocean Conference, which set the global agenda for Sustainable Development Goal 14. Fourteen island countries, 7 territories and 5 metropolitan countries with presence in the region required relevant, recent information — about a young scientific field in a data-poor region with a strong cultural identity with the ocean. Communication practices had to take into account the sensitive balance between perceptions of science and traditional/indigenous knowledge, with the rate of change of populations and environmental conditions often outpacing the creation and transmission of knowledge.

Stories formed integral components of policy briefings to both engage policy-makers and meet their negotiation needs, with these stories incorporating and relying upon recent data. We discuss the particular type and nature of communication required by policy-makers in Pacific Small Island Developing States, to encourage greater inclusion of scientific findings in the development agenda and to facilitate a more powerful, joint regional position.

Communicators seeking to engage national governments face the challenge of creating access and trust. Intergovernmental organisations (IGOs) have direct relationships with policy-makers and existing relationships with regional governance and technical agencies. We describe the mechanisms of building and maintaining these institutional connections, demands on the ownership of text provided, and successful methods to generate future engagement with the policy audience and with the scientific subjects.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Society
Area of interest: Influencing policies through science communication