Our Story

The formation of INGSA was the product of converging conversations, complementary ideas, and parallel policy innovations. In 2012, a Nature commentary by Doubleday and Wilsdon struck a timely chord for many working at the science-to-policy interface. For Steven Wilson, then the Executive Director of the International Council for Science (ICSU), it was a call to action and he asked Sir Peter Gluckman, Chief Science Advisor in New Zealand to chair a working group to have an initial meeting on the issue, in conjunction with the 2014 ICSU congress in Auckland, NZ.

Together they assembled some of the world’s preeminent thought leaders – academics and practitioners – in the emerging field of science advice to government to develop an agenda for global discussion. The result was the Science Advice to Governments international conference held in Auckland NZ at the end of August 2014.

Attended by high level practitioners, academics, students, and government officials alike, this conference made accessible key debates in the practice of science advice in a way that other global fora have not done. Over 40 countries were represented by over 220 delegates from all regions of the world, together with representatives of key international organisations. A full video record of the two day event is available here, with the meeting documents available via the INGSA Knowledge Hub.

The Auckland conference ended with a resounding call for the formation of a network to continue discussion and promote the exchange of ideas and experiences, particularly in key areas such as:

  • Critical analysis of the variety of mechanisms for science advice (both formal and informal), taking into account local contexts, cultures and histories;
  • Capacity building for science advice, especially in developing economies;
  • Science advice and the role of practitioners in the context of crises and emergencies;
  • Planning for joint events and activities internationally.

The International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA) was subsequently established to create a unique network of practitioners and researchers interested in progressing the evidence-policy interface.

Since 2014, INGSA has grown to over 5500 members from over 110 countries. It has run capacity building workshops worldwide and subsequent conferences in:

  • Brussels in 2016 – In collaboration with the European Commission
  • Tokyo in 2018 – In collaboration with the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) and The National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS)
  • Montreal in 2021 – In collaboration with the Canadian and Québec governments

INGSA continues to be an independent affiliate of The International Science Council (ISC – formerly ICSU), which has provided administrative support. Foundational funding for INGSA was generously provided by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Wellcome Trust. INGSA has also received project and workshop funding from partners all over the world.

In 2016, INGSA founded its first Regional Chapter, INGSA-Africa, followed by INGSA-Asia and INGSA-Latin America and the Caribbean in 2017. The creation of the Chapters was the first steps in fulfilling INGSA’s goal of being a decentralised global organisation able to providing local and context-specific knowledge and capacity building in situ.

INGSA’s work would not be possible without the long term formal and informal partnerships that include: UNESCO, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and Science Advice Mechanism (SAM), and offices of Chief Science Advisors around the world

In 2022 INGSA made a small update to its name to become the International Network for Governmental Science Advice, to better reflect the increasingly complex landscape of science advice and science diplomacy to include the multiple levels of government as well as the critical role of non-governmental actors at the interface.

Covid-19 was a pivotal moment for INGSA, as the interfaces between science, policy and the public became increasingly public, scrutinised, and contested. As part of a world-wide effort, INGSA is focused on making sure that the awareness and engagement of policymakers, scientists, and society over the course of the pandemic, leads to real, ongoing improvements in how knowledge is utilised to inform both citizens and our governments at all levels.

To find out more by exploring INGSA’s Regional Chapters, Thematic Divisions, Capacity Building Opportunities and Resources, or our Knowledge Hub of tools and knowledge for practitioners.