Najam Publishes Commentary on Science-Policy Divide in One Earth

Adil Najam

Prof. Adil Najam, Dean of the Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, published a commentary on the ‘Science-Policy Divide’ for the journal One Earth, titled “Scientists, Focus on Science” (Vol 2(4): 300-301) where he suggests that the best contribution scientists can make to policy is by doing good science and remaining true to the principles of science rather than trying to conform to the needs of policy and policy-makers.

Najam, who has significant experience of working on the science-policy interface, including as a Lead Author of the Nobel-winning reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and of serving of numerous science-policy panels, writes that. “except in a few very exceptional cases, scientist playing policymaker is a doomed enterprise.”

Excerpt from the paper:

The fundamental paradigm of doing science and doing policy can often be at odds. Science privileges knowledge over all else; policy gives that place of prominence to action and, therefore, often to expedience. Science is about understanding things; policy is about getting things done. Science is driven by a search for the best answer; policy is a quest for the workable. Even in knowing that it will never find it, science seeks the perfect answer; for policy, good enough is better than nothing. Good policy might sometimes require necessary compromise; good science never does.

Adil Najam is the Inaugural Dean of the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University and was the former Vice Chancellor of the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). He has served as a Lead Author for the third and fourth assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), work for which the IPCC was awarded the 2006 Nobel award. Read more about him here.