AAAS 2023 Workshop – Developing a INGSA-North American Chapter focused on Cities

Organized by the Office of the President of the International Network for Governmental Science Advice (INGSA) and Chief Scientist of Québec, in the margin of the annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) 
3 March 2023, 8:00 to 9:30 Washington Convention Center, Room 208 AB


Rémi Quirion, Chief Scientist of Québec and President INGSA (Chair) 

Salvatore Aricò, CEO of the International Science Council (ISC) 

Janice Bailey, Scientific Director, Fond de recherche du Québec Nature et Technologie 

Simon Barnabé, Municipal Research Chair for sustainable cities, University of Québec in Trois-Rivières and Chief Scientist for Victoriaville 

Wenda Bauchspies, Director Office of International Science and Engineering, NSF 

David Castle, School of Public Administration and the Gustavson School of Business, University of Victoria; Researcher in Residence, Office of the Chief Science Advisor of Canada 

William Colglazier, Editor-in-Chief of Science & Diplomacy, Senior Scholar, Center for Science Diplomacy, AAAS 

Anna Dulencin, Assistant Research Professor and Director, Science and Politics Program, Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University 

Peter Gluckman, President of the International Science Council (ISC) and Head of Koi Tū: The Centre for Informed Futures, University of Auckland, New Zealand 

Mehrdad Hariri, Founder and CEO of the Canadian Science Policy Centre 

Jean-François Hould, Director, Québec Government Office in Washington 

Julia MacKenzie, Chief Program Officer, AAAS 

Deborah Stine, Founder, Science & Technology Policy Academy 

Stephen J. Toope, President and CEO, CIFAR 

Virginie Auger, Principal Advisor INGSA and International Affairs, Office of the Chief Scientist of Québec and President INGSA (note taker) 


Under the leadership of INGSA President, participants shared their thoughts and vision on the development of a North American Chapter to be focused on cities and municipalities. Participants mentioned that the mobility of population, the transversality of issues (climate change, water management, public health, etc.), communication capacity and cost/benefit assessments were important factors to consider when discussing scientific advice at city level. Additionally, the importance of citizens and their interests was mentioned, together with preparedness capacity and sustainability in the development of public policies. 

The discussion allowed for the identification of limitations and constraints of city-level decisions. Indeed, cities are often at the heart of crisis and city officials and citizens need and expect quick reactions and solutions. This rapid turnaround in decision making can limit their capacities to consult experts or receive advice. Participants highlighted that the city’s size, its financial capacity, the proximity to universities and research facilities, as elements impacting access to science advice. Indeed, larger cities in Canada and the United States, as well as cities with universities sometimes already have systems in place where they receive advice. 

Looking into the development of an INGSA North American Chapter, participants mentioned the importance of including innovation as a core concept while having the active participation of cities (advisors and policy makers) and citizens, in addition to advice providers (universities, academies, private firms, etc.). They also recommended that the aim of the network should be towards breaking down barriers between politics and science, to encourage interdisciplinarity and to develop a trusting mechanism between the two for a strong partnership. 

Participants welcomed the idea for an initial pilot project that would conduct research in a set number of cities and areas (central as well as east and west coasts covering different areas of North America) on specific subjects and review the current mechanisms for scientific advice available and being used. Participants recommended that a compendium of existing mechanisms be developed and that this project be complemented with a survey asking cities to share information on their existing resources, needs and gaps. Different research subjects were presented including management of flooding zones, water management, climate change impacts, sustainable transport, green transition, etc. 

It was recommended to focus on medium-small-size cities in the pilot project and restrain the geographical representation to specific areas (with a geographical representativity of north American) where common issue is encountered and managed. It was recommended that information should be collected on both the provision of advice and the processes of policies development, taking also into consideration the place that the private sectors and civic intermediaries occupy in this framework to encompass all actors. 

Participants provided examples of current cooperations between city officials, research, academies, and universities; of regional cooperation; and examples of cross-border initiatives (US-Canada Great lake Agreement, Great lake and St. Lawrence cities initiatives, International Institute for Sustainable Development, Cascadia Innovation Corridor, ESAL, PIT-UN, etc.). They also mentioned cooperation systems in place that could be used as a starting point to research collaborations, including Federations of municipalities in Canada and the United States, the United States Meetings of Mayors, and the sister cites system. It was highlighted that the concept of science and science advice should be clearly defined in the pilot project to ensure it captures the different models presented during the discussion and encompasses all what science includes (pure sciences, STEM, Health, etc.). 

Next steps 

The office of the President of INGSA will continue to work with relevant stakeholders with the aim developing the INGSA North American Chapter. Further coordination on a possible workshop in the margin of the Cities Summit of the Americas, in Denver on 27-28 April 2023, is in discussion where it is expected that additional engagement with municipal and city representatives will be conducted. The next step will be to develop the concept note for a pilot research project that would include geographical representation of North America (central as well as east and west coasts).