The Brussels Declaration: Ethics and Principles for Science and Society Policy-Making

By Nethani Palmani | Feb 24, 2017 02:01 PM EST

The Brussels Declaration believes that taking a bottom-up approach involving the grass-roots with politicians, science advisers, chief scientific officers from industry, civil society leaders, medical doctors, social scientists, academia and science editors, will boost understanding of how power operates in science & society. (Photo: Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images)

The Brussels Declaration on the ethics and principles for science and society policy-making was published at last week's meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston, Massachusetts. The Declaration aims to establish a comprehensive guideline towards the creation of a sound policy, that is able to reflect evidence intersecting with science and society.

According to the American Council on Science and Health, the Declaration consists of five sections that aim to elaborate the building of a framework for policy-making. The five sections include "Science and Policy", "What We Expect From the Scientific Community", "What We Expect From the Policy-Making Community", "What We Expect From the Public, Media, Industry and Interest Groups" and "What Needs to Change".

Over 300 people from 35 different countries spent nearly five years to develop the 20-points blueprint, to identify principles that best guide policy makers at the intersection of science and society. The Declaration determines to stress the importance of the intersection and promotes a multidisciplinary approach towards policy-making that heightens accountability and integrity among the people groups involved.

The Brussels Declaration explains that the people groups involved in the policy-making guidelines are often policymakers, scientists, and the public who do not necessarily understand each other. Scientists don't necessarily understand a policy and policymakers don't necessarily understand science, while the public may or may not understand the two corresponding groups.

Because the three groups bring distinctive perspectives, understandings and contexts, each people group carry their set of values that should be integrated together to create a sound policy. This is necessary to maximize benefits for the health and safety of the public, which is the primary motive of the Declaration. 

Overall, the Brussels Declaration sets out to establish the importance of involving scientific advice in all stages of policy making, both in short and long term. The Declaration is currently open for public comment on SciCom, as the first act of implementing some of the principles included in the declaration.

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