Policy is formed from the intermingling of scientific knowledge, community values, practical considerations and political judgement. Contrary to some perceptions, policy is not formed from scientific information in a linear fashion. Rather, (i) the needs of policy makers for scientific information derive from policy and political processes in jurisdictions, not from scientists' perceptions or data; (ii) timing (the 'window of opportunity') is critical; and (iii) the science-policy interface can be bridged only by scientists understanding the policy process, and working with policy makers to reduce political and policy risk, rather than by providing scientific facts. In this seminar, I discuss the nature of the science-policy interface in natural resources legislation and management, drawing on my own experience and the literature. I illustrate the 'turbulent' intermingling of values and science and political judgement in forming policy, and the importance of timing using the example of the rules we developed for assessing clearing of native vegetation under the NSW Native Vegetation Act 2003.
About the speaker
Dr Sue Briggs has had thirty five years experience as a senior scientist, policy maker and manager working in CSIRO and the New South Wales public service. She led the team that developed the native vegetation methodology for assessing the clearing of native vegetation in New South Wales, co-managed the Better Knowledge Better Bush project and the Invasive Native Scrub research project and co-developed the bio-banking methodology. She is now an adjunct professor at the University of Canberra.