Evidence plays a fundamental role both in understanding our problems and in designing, implementing and measuring the impact that laws have on our day-to-day life. Photo: Internet.

Matías Acosta - Head of Exploration - UNDP AccLab Argentina -   @DrMatiasAcosta

Legislators need evidence to design and implement laws, which are indispensable to overcome our daily challenges. Despite that Argentina has one of the most advanced academic systems in Latin America, we have a lot to learn on strategies to use scientific evidence in policymaking. Thus, we decided to act through a collective design workshop!

In Argentina, the national deputies and congressmen/congresswomen are responsible for designing and debating new laws. During their daily job, they need to consider evidence such as scientific data as well as many other sources of information that include social, economic and cultural aspects. In theory this sounds simple, but in practice is not. It is particularly challenging to access scientific evidence because most times is way too complex, which makes it understandable only to other scientists or journalists.

How can we make scientific data available and comprehensible for policymaking? We thought we should not answer this question but rather let experts answer it. We decided to organize a co-creation workshop with a thrilling mix of policymakers, scientists, and journalists (here you can see their biographies). The goal of the workshop was to co-developed scientific advise strategies and see how much we can learn from each other.

Guests and organizers of the workshop “Evidence and sustainable development: build, communicate, decide” which took place at the San Andrés University in Buenos Aires.

The discussion took place among multidisciplinary teams of 5 people. This led to many exciting conversations and debates that clearly highlighted the value of the diverse audience. Initially, each team developed a problem tree which was used to define a problem statement. Thereafter, they discussed solutions and framed theories of change with each group.

An important challenge for scientific advise is the time frames of policymaking and science. On the one hand, the scientific process takes considerable effort and time in most cases. On the contrary, public policy decisions often need to be taken extremely fast. Complexity is another issue as scientists tend to investigate model systems that do not necessarily represent reality.

In order to advance scientific advise in Argentina, it was firstly proposed that legislators should began receiving training in the scientific method. It was further suggested that the universities could deliver professional careers focusing on systematic communication of scientific evidence for public policy. Indeed, this is of primary importance as policymakers and scientists have their own (and very different!) jargons.

Good communication skills are also needed for scientific outreach. The latter is not just a good practice for the scientific community but is also required for letting society know about the key role that science can play in policymaking.

A more complete overview of the challenges and opportunities discussed during the workshop can be found here. Indeed, there a lot of challenges but also many exciting opportunities to innovate. The pathway to building an efficient methodology of scientific advice for policymaking in Argentina is by no means easy. Yet, guess what? We are many who want to take action and walk it all the way long. Would you like to join us?

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