Science Policy and Diplomacy Newsletter—INGSA Covid-19 special edition October 2020


The Science Policy and Diplomacy Newsletter of the Australian Academy of Science highlights important science policy discussion and events in Australia and around the globe. We report on the involvement of science in national and international policy and diplomacy, and the Academy’s contributions to these discussions.

International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA)

The Academy has produced this special edition of the Science Policy and Diplomacy Newsletter with the support of the International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA). It celebrates and showcases how INGSA, working at the interface of science policy and diplomacy, is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. INGSA recently hosted the Global Week of Dialogue to examine the lessons being learnt from the science advice and policy responses to COVID-19. This special edition highlights key outcomes, learnings and resources in relation to this issue.

Subscribe to this newsletter

Introduction by INGSA to the special edition 

COVID-19 continues to test every aspect of our social, financial, scientific and political systems. Yet, in listing these spheres of experience as if they are somehow discrete, it fails to recognise the most acute of lesson from the pandemic—that everything is in dynamic equilibrium, everything is interdependent, and that it is at those interfaces between nice, neat distinctions where real challenges, and potential successes, reside.

The International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA) was created in 2015 to raise awareness of—and the capabilities at—the interface between research and policy. With COVID-19 this interface was thrust into the spotlight, revealing the sometimes messy, contested, non-linear nature of both science and policy, as well as the friction of their interaction.

To begin to discuss how more resilient, flexible and informed evidence-to-policy systems can emerge from the crisis, INGSA recently ran the Global Week of Dialogue. This suite of virtual events brought together over 35 experts from around the globe, across disciplines, and from every level of decision-making. From the UN and WHO, through to region-specific panels, the Global Week of Dialogue provided insight into how evidence influenced the global response, what the systems were that worked and what failed, and what the lessons have been so far.

Watch the sessions from the Global Week of Dialogue.


What are we learning from the COVID-19 pandemic?

INGSA has released the first report on the COVID-19 Policy Tracker.

Reflections and input to combat COVID-19: First Report of the INGSA Coronavirus Evidence-to-Policy Tracker released

In February 2020, INGSA launched the COVID Evidence-to-Policy Tracker for resources on the utilisation of evidence for policy and practice for COVID-19.

INGSA has released the first report on the COVID-19 Evidence-to-Policy Tracker, ‘Tracking global evidence-to-policy pathways in the coronavirus crisis: a preliminary report’. The report compares the various ways in which evidence has been marshalled and applied.

Towards common standards to promote effective, responsible and creative science systems

An International Science Council (ISC) published blog post discusses the recently launched monitoring exercise that aims to measure how well national science systems worldwide are doing on topics such as scientific freedom and open science, and that the perspectives of researchers and scientific associations are crucial.

Mounting evidence suggests coronavirus is airborne—but health advice has not caught up

A Nature article discusses the evolution of health policies surrounding COVID-19, and how continuing scientific investigation into the virus, including by engineers and aerosol scientists, will continue to lead to evolutions in recommendations that seek to control the spread of the pandemic.

Rapid Research Information Forum (RRIF)

The Rapid Research Information Forum (RRIF) is a forum for rapid information sharing and collaboration within the Australian research and innovation sector. Convened by Australia’s Chief Scientist, the RRIF and its operations are led by the Australian Academy of Science.

RRIF provides a mechanism to rapidly bring together relevant multidisciplinary research expertise to address pressing questions about Australia’s response to COVID-19, as they emerge, with topics including sex-specific impacts, therapeutics and vaccines.

Read the 12 RRIF reports.

The importance of science advice

Science for Australians initiative

Science for Australians is a policy initiative by the Academy and is designed to illustrate the benefits of science to the public and policy makers. This series is featuring a series of articles written for the public by leading scientific experts. Articles are designed to provoke discussion, demonstrating how research and ideas can lead to stronger science–policy development and implementation. As an ongoing project of the Academy there has been two COVID-19 related articles published focusing on open science after COVID-19 and a discussion of how the pandemic may change how vaccines are patented.

SAPEA: Science for policy

The Science Advice for Policy by European Academies (SAPEA) 2019 report, Making sense of science for policy under conditions of complexity and uncertainty, is an important document for understanding the role of science in policy and decision-making.


The importance of virus taxonomy

What’s the point of virus taxonomy?, an article from the International Science Council by Stuart Siddell and Andrew Davison of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV), discusses the process of virus taxonomy and why the names given to viruses matter. It covers how viruses get their names and argues that virus taxonomy is important as it allows the clinical, biological and evolutionary features of a virus to be placed in a framework that accommodates and connects all viruses.

Science diplomacy and the pandemic

Policy brief: Building better science diplomacy for global challenges: insights from the COVID-19 crisis

The Using Science for/in Diplomacy for Global Challenges (S4D4C) project in the European Union has released a policy brief that evaluates how the pandemic crisis demonstrates the need for improving science diplomacy practices, which is the remit of S4D4C.

Experts highlight how science diplomacy combats pandemics

An American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) article reflects n the existing international entities in place to mitigate the threat of a pandemic, and how the the SARS-CoV-2 virus exposed weaknesses in prevention strategies, response plans and trust of scientific authorities.

© 2024 Australian Academy of Science