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15 Dec 2023

Turning (geo)science into policy

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Author: Dasapta Erwin Irawan (This blogpost is a preprint version)

This post is a republication of the original post from

Why is it important to turn (geo)science knowledge into policy?

Turning geoscience knowledge into policy is important for addressing complex environmental and societal challenges. Geoscience knowledge can be used to support policy and practice through dialogue and partnerships between geoscientists and other stakeholders (Gill & Bullough, 2017).

This is crucial because geoscience research with direct implications to health, safety, and economic well-being is often not used enough by the public, policy makers, and politicians (Liverman & Jaramillo, 2011). Moreover, the importance and application of geoscience can quickly change when dealing with complex regional/global development and environmental challenges (Petterson, 2019). It is clear that geoscience topics with significant societal and political impact, such as natural hazard prevention, shale gas exploration, fire management, and climate change, need to be integrated effectively into policy and planning (Hut et al., 2016). Additionally, social science disciplines play a critical role in improving the communication of geoscientific knowledge to policymakers, civic authorities, business leaders, the media, and the general public (Stewart, 2016).

Furthermore, the interaction between science and policy is intricate, involving multiple disciplines and often lacking completeness. This underscores the need for clear and effective communication and translation of geoscience knowledge into policy (Gluckman, 2016). Geoscience plays a vital role in society, and the general public’s understanding of geoscience relies on formal education as well as informal education through public outreach and news media (Neenan & Roche, 2016). This highlights the significance of effective communication and education in conveying geoscience knowledge to policymakers. Additionally, the challenge lies in transforming successful geoscience initiatives into policies and governmental actions, which necessitates a collaborative effort in translating knowledge and communication (Masson, 2015).

Converting geoscience knowledge into policy is important for solving environmental and societal problems. This process needs good communication, collaboration, and education to make sure that geoscience research is well-incorporated into policy and planning, ultimately benefiting society and the environment.

The stages on how can we turn (geo) science into policy?

To effectively turn science into policy, several stages need to be considered.

  1. The collaboration between scientists, policymakers, and the public is important for creating useful knowledge (Lemos & Morehouse, 2005). This approach combines science and policy, highlighting the value of working together to produce knowledge.
  2. Science should be made accessible to the public in order to effectively fulfill its role. It is important to emphasize the value of engaging and communicating with the public in the process of making policies (Dooren & Noordegraaf, 2020).
  3. Reflecting on the ideas and expectations about how knowledge is produced is important for organizations that work at the intersection of science and policy. This highlights the importance of being flexible and using different strategies to connect science and policy discussions (Gustafsson, 2019).
  4. Science policy is about how knowledge is made, shared, and used. It involves working together and sharing expertise, equipment, and know-how. Science and policy are closely connected (Cranier, 2022).
  5. The combination of science, practice, and policy development is important to help vulnerable populations, decrease poverty, and enhance overall well-being. It highlights the need to align scientific research with policy objectives (Berlin, 2021).

These stages highlight the complexity and many aspects of turning science into policy. They emphasize the importance of working together to produce knowledge, involving the public, being flexible in organizations, and integrating science with policy goals.

Five examples of a successful effort transforming (geo) science into policy

Examples of successful efforts turning geoscience into policy are evident in various initiatives.

  1. The Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) has organized Data Help Desk activities and archived reusable resources, showing how geoscience data can be translated into actionable policy and practice (Ma, 2021).
  2. The American Geophysical Union (AGU) has funded centers dedicated to increasing participation in coastal and estuarine research and management. These centers have successfully incorporated diverse perspectives into geoscience policy and practice (Harris et al., 2021).
  3. The International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG) is a prime example of successful international collaboration in the field of geoscience. It showcases the significant impact that scientific unions have on shaping policies and practices worldwide (Ismail-Zadeh, 2016).
  4. The Sustainable Development Goals, the Sendai Framework for Disaster and Risk Reduction, and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change are notable examples of how geoscience has successfully contributed to global development frameworks. These initiatives demonstrate the effective incorporation of geoscience knowledge into international policy agendas (Petterson, 2019).
  5. The theory of self-efficacy has been used to study the effectiveness of summer research programs in attracting minority students to the field of geosciences. This research has shown successful initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion in the geosciences (Riggs et al., 2018).

These five examples here show how geoscience has been turned into policy in a successful way. It involves working together with other countries, organizing data, promoting diversity, and integrating it into global development frameworks.


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