INGSA2018 – Science Advice for a Changing World

3rd International Conference on Science Advice to Governments

Tokyo, Japan
6 – 7 November 2018

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On the 6-7th November 2018 in Tokyo, Japan, the International Network for Governmental Science Advice (INGSA) hosted its 3rd biennial conference on International Science Advice to Government.

INGSA is a global forum for policy-makers, practitioners, academies, and academics to share experience, build capacity, and develop theoretical and practical approaches to the use of scientific evidence in informing policy at all levels of government.

INGSA2018 brought together policy professionals, leading practitioners, scholars, and industry representatives interested in the dynamics of the science-policy interface from over 50 countries. The conference explored the principles, practices, and dynamics of working at the science-policy interface, particularly in relation to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

You can now watch some of the sessions On Demand below and download Conference Report

INGSA2018 was made possible in partnership with a range of Supporters including the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS)

DAY 1 Main Hall Sessions


  • Teruo Kishi
  • Akihiko Tanaka
  • Michinari Hamaguchi
  • Kazuhiko Takeuchi
  • Sir Peter Gluckman

INGSA was very happy to have the conference’s opening keynote delivered by Rt Hon Helen Clark, former Administrator of UNDP and former Prime Minister of New Zealand.

The first plenary of ‘Science Advice for a Changing World’ – The Sustainable Development Goals and the science-policy interface.


  • Yuko Harayama (Tohoku Uni)
  • Matthew Wallace (IDRC)
  • Daya Reddy (ISC)
  • Klaus Tilmes (World Bank)
  • Michiharu Nakamura (JST)
  • Rt Hon Helen Clark


  • Connie Nshemereirwe (GYA)
  • Kay Firth-Butterfield (World Economic Forum)
  • Haruo Takeda (Hitachi)
  • Xavier Estico (NISTI)
  • E. William Colglazier (Science & Diplomacy)
  • Michael Barber (Australian Academy of Sciences)


  • David Budtz Pedersen
  • Sujatha Raman
  • Christine Weidenslaufer
  • Mathias Kaiser
  • Marc Saner

INGSA was honoured to have the keynote address delivered by Dr Vladimír Šucha, Director-General for the Joint Research Centre at the European Commission.

DAY 2 Main Hall Sessions

To kick off Day 2 of the conference, the keynote was delivered by Dr Remi Quirion, Chief Scientist of Quebec and long time supporter of INGSA.


  • Tateo Arimoto (GRIPS)
  • Alex Harris (Wellcome Trust)
  • Zakri Abdul Hamid (Former Chief Science Advisor)
  • Michael Halpern (Union of Concerned Scientists)
  • Carla-Leanne Washbourne (UCL)

Mapping Critical Policy Nodes – Identifying the articulation points between interacting SDGs and domestic policy priorities. Featuring:

  • Anne-Sophie Stevance (ISC)
  • Satoru Ohtake (JST)
  • Remi Quirion (Chief Scientist of Quebec)
  • Apollonia Miola (JRC)
  • Sir Peter Gluckman (INGSA)
  • Ernesto Fernandez Polcuch (UNESCO)


  • Aidan Gilligan (SciCom: Making Sense of Science)
  • Cyrille Schwob (Airbus)
  • Royston Braganza (Grameen Capital)
  • Hiroshi Ueda (Sumitomo Chemical)
  • Kenichiro Yamaguchi (CDP Worldwide)

The final keynote for the conference was graciously delivered by the Hon Dr Eugene Mutimura, Minister for Education in the Government of Rwanda.

The final session of the conference looked at the future of science advice, and the various initiatives INGSA will be undertaking. It also featured rapporteurs from the day’s parallel sessions.

Theme and objectives of the 2018 conference

The overarching theme of the conference was “Science Advice for a changing world”. This theme encompasses the urgency of our common challenges and global goals; the unprecedented speed of scientific discovery and application; and the shifting public view of both science and policy making in the emerging ‘post-trust’ society. The theme informs the objectives of the programme which are:

  • To enable critical reflection and interdisciplinary dialogue on the practice and place of science advice in policy-making. Public policy is a values-based domain where, in a democracy, policy makers and politicians try to reflect public attitudes and demands. Societies need a critical understanding of the utility and limits of scientific evidence in policy processes, and to know how to weigh this against other considerations in context.
  • To develop the science-policy interface for the achievement of the SDGs by better understanding the role of science advice and evidence-informed policy in promoting them.
  • To consider strategies to further improve the provision of evidence-informed advice to public policy at all levels of government, and explore the role of multiple stakeholders in influencing and facilitating this process. In providing evidential input it is important to also consider the ethical and societal implications of how scientific knowledge and technology are applied (

Programme Structure

The programme was a mix of keynote speakers, plenary sessions, and parallel sessions on four thematic streams.

Parallel stream 1) Science advice in an era of Technological and Societal Transformation

Human innovation and ingenuity has both upsides and downsides, especially at scale. How can risks and challenges be mitigated and benefits maximised?  This stream will examine the role of science advice in bridging the multiple sectors required.

Parallel stream 2) Science advice and the Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a framework for truly joint, global action on our shared challenges.  The SDGs require not only new knowledge but also radically new systems and approaches.  This session will examine the types of knowledge that are required to help advance the SDGs and how such knowledge must be framed and mobilised in innovative new ways.

Parallel stream 3) The Future of Science Advice

Science advice has never been so important.  At a time when the use of ‘evidence’ to guide public policy can be so openly revered and reviled, trusted and tested – depending on one’s political position – there has never been a greater need for it. Yet, the position of science advisor or science advisory mechanisms is vulnerable sitting as it does between science and public policy, and largely between facts and values. In this in-between, it is important to maintain the trust of parties who do not always trust each other.  While the position requires a distinct set of skills and experiences, there is no formal training for this brokerage and often structural barriers prevent it functioning effectively (in both science and policy sectors).

This session will look at the future of science advising and the skills needed?  What are the implications of institutionalising these?  Who are the next generation advisors and will they want the job?

Parallel stream 4) Contexts and Case Studies of Science Advice

Science advising is often discussed in the abstract, by way of principles and practices.  Putting these into context can provide a better way to share experience and lessons.  This is especially important because the practice of science advising is highly contextualised.  The advisor or advisory mechanism can quickly become a decision-maker in crises, for instance.  Science advice to local officials may need to confront more immediate and direct democratic processes than at other levels, but may also have more immediate and direct impacts.  At the same time, at the international level, diplomats and trade-negotiators have to marshal scientific understandings in new and unprecedented ways.  These are just some of the unique contexts in which science advice plays a role.  This session drills deep into the diverse contexts of science advice to better understand its real-world application.

Satellite Events (5th and 8th November)

Satellite events and workshops were held on the days either side of the main conference program. These satellite events were:

Monday 5th November:
  • Data Science: a Guide for Society – Collaboration between Sense About Science and Elsevier – Half day workshop
    • An international collaboration between citizens, research bodies and decision makers to produce ‘Data science: a guide for society’. 
  • Science Leadership / Science Advice Capacity Building Workshop – Global Young Academy – Full day workshop
  • Science Diplomacy Workshop – Half day workshop in collaboration with FMSTAN
Thursday 8th November:
  • Science in the Global South – LMIC Breakfast hosted by IDRC
  • Urban Science Advice Workshop – Full Day workshop
  • Parliamentary Science Advice Workshop – Full day workshop

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