The future of science advice in Europe

This one-day event in Helsinki brought together some 200 leading practitioners and scholars from around Europe to provide expert input as Finland developed its next-generation science advice capabilities, and to send a clear message to the new European Commission about the role of science in policymaking.

Today’s world faces an increasingly complex and interconnected policy environment. This has prompted the EU and national governments to rethink existing tools and structures for designing policy, and to seek innovative ways to govern.

This rethinking extends also to science advice at both an EU and a national level. Many key policy challenges of the twenty-first century depend on scientific fields where the evidence is complex, uncertain or rapidly evolving, or where there is controversy both within and outside the scientific community.

In this context, some 200 expert delegates gathered in Helsinki to discuss emerging trends, challenges and opportunities for the future of science advice in Europe.

Welcome (09:00)

Dialogue: The future of science advice in Europe

Discussion chaired by Marja Makarow

Panel discussion: The science advice ecosystem in Finland

Discussion chaired by Pilvi Torsti

Workshops and mini-sessions

Concluding session

  • Discussion of workshop outputs
  • Feedback from civil society auditors
  • Concluding discussions and votes

Close (15:45)


Title Organisation Description
1. Science advice in a complex world SAPEA & Group of Chief Scientific Advisors We will first briefly summarise the key messages emerging from the evidence review Making sense of science under conditions of complexity and uncertainty written by the SAPEA consortium, and the ensuing scientific opinion Scientific advice to European policy written by the European Commission’s Group of Chief Scientific Advisors. Next, we will discuss the key messages and the implications for organising science advice to policymakers with the workshop participants.
2. The role of academies in science advice: an open discussion Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts & Sciences This interactive and reflective workshop will start with an introduction by Wim van Saarloos, who will reflect critically on his experience and the pros and cons of the Dutch science advice system, and on the role of his academy. Discussions about the issues raised are then continued in two groups, and we finally take stock with all participants together.
3. Science advice as a team sport: new practices and skills for collaboration Academy of Finland and Prime Minister’s Office of Finland Science advice activities can and should be arranged in multiple ways, since the challenges our societies face vary as also do the practices to handle and solve them. This session looks into the principles on how to define the challenges, how to choose practices for collaboration with decision-making institutions, and how to find and choose the most suitable researchers, stakeholders and representatives of end-users to offer, discuss and use science advice in particular situations.
4. Putting scientific knowledge and reason at the heart of political decision-making Joint Research Centre Why is scientific evidence increasingly ignored by politicians and voters? How can scientists increase the policy impact of their work? Come and discuss the science of why evidence-informed policy is so hard and what you can do about it.
5. Innovative approaches to science advice Young Academy of Finland Why should young researchers be taken into account as science advisors? How can we strengthen the ability and will to engage in societal discussion? Come to hear some innovative examples on building connections between young researchers and policymakers, and join us for a demonstration of a new dialogical discussion method called ‘Timeout’.
6. Science advice for a sustainable future Group of Chief Scientific Advisors Environmental sustainability and climate change mitigation are top priorities of the next European Commission 2019-2024. How can science advice contribute to achieving these objectives in Europe and beyond? What are the specific needs and challenges? Are new forms of science advice needed in order to inform effective sustainability and climate policies?
7. A scientific horizon-scanning model for Finland Sofi The workshop will focus on a scientific horizon scanning pilot that has been launched in October 2019 by Sofi (Science Advice Initiative of Finland). In the workshop we will share the latest news on the pilot, and we invite the participants to join the Sofi team to co-design parts of the pilot.



The event featured a range of high-level participants from both Finland and wider Europe. Guests include:



This event and its outputs were audited by a small team of representatives from civil society and citizen science organisations:



This event was brought to you by:

All photos by Tomi Setälä and SAPEA

Event details


Pearl Dykstra

Sierd Cloetingh

Risto Nieminen

Pilvi Torsti

Heikki Mannila

Jyrki Hakapää

Wim van Saarloos

Carina Keskitalo

Seppo Määttä

Marja Makarow

Päivi Tikka

Jaakko Kuosmanen

Ortwin Renn

Lea Kauppi

Johanna Vuorelma

Tarmo Soomere

David Mair

Katri Mäkinen-Rostedt