Emily Rushton: ‘Science is negotiable’

The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) Science and Policy forum is currently under way in Nairobi, Kenya. In the opening session Judi Wakhungu, a scientist turned politician and now Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, recognised that science doesn’t translate into policy the way the scientific community would want. Wakhungu said, ‘I found in politics that science is negotiable… and addressing issues had to wait for the right political time.’ Academics from the floor expressed their concern at this statement but Wakhungu confirmed it was how politics worked. She said to create any actions, there had to be negotiations.

New Zealand’s (NZ’s) own Sir Peter Gluckman was the key note speaker on the opening session, leading some discussion on why science doesn’t translate into policy. Sir Peter, Chief Scientific advisor to Prime Minister John Key and Chair of the International Network for Governmental Scientific Advice (INGSA), provided insight into why such urgent actions were not being implemented despite solid data being available. With NZ’s own climate record consistently and increasingly embarrassing us globally, I was interested in what he had to say.

Sir Peter and the other panellists provided a involved dialogue with clear instructions on how to improve the implementation of science based policy, which can be read here.


All posts by Institute delegates reflect their own thoughts, opinions and experiences, and do not reflect those of the Institute.

Posted on May 20, 2016 and filed under UNEA 2016.