How do we ensure people who live in developing nations in Australia’s corner of the world can enjoy the same kind of continuous access to clean water and sanitation as most of Australia? What can we do to evaluate the positive economic benefits of excellent environmental management? Where would we like our science and technology research and application infrastructure and ecosystem to be in the next 15 years? Science and technology hold many of the answers, but good policy will be the key to ensuring they’re applied.
Science can demonstrate why something is the way it is, but this is not enough. Working out how to apply this knowledge in the real world – with all its complexities, its nuances and its politics – is the point at which ideas can often get stuck.
That’s why it’s important to open the door between the knowledge-creators and the knowledge appliers, and to keep it open to two-way traffic. An engineer may have devised a brilliant dry-flush urine diversion system for use in low-water environments, and may have demonstrated its superiority in improving hygiene, but if you can’t get the invention funded, made, approved, distributed and installed on a broad scale in the disadvantaged and often hard-to-reach communities that would most benefit, there’s not much point.
Likewise, policymakers are constrained by the political environment in which they operate and the agendas it propagates. They’re time constrained and compelled to work with a range of stakeholders with differing pressures, and run the risk of missing altogether a key research outcome or technological innovation which could help them achieve their objectives more quickly, more easily, or more cheaply.
Water and sanitation; accounting for the environment; designing a science and technology strategy for Australia’s future – these are some of the biggest issues there are when science, technology and policy come together. These are also the big issues Science & Technology Australia is addressing during its major National Science Week event for 2017, Science meets Policymakers.
To be held in Canberra on 8 August, the one-day event is one of a kind: it’s a kind of a hybrid between a conference, a think-tank, a public consultation and a networking event. It will bring together people from science, technology, engineering and mathematics who wish to improve their understanding of, or engagement with, federal policy, and people from across a range of federal government departments and agencies who are responsible for creating and applying policy that should or could benefit from a healthy dose of scientific evidence or technological innovation.
Senior and aspiring policy makers from a range of backgrounds will come together with researchers and innovators in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to learn about each other’s worlds, work together to imagine new directions, join new interesting and valuable networks, and make a meaningful contribution to Australia’s science- and technology-informed policy future.
Final registrations are available until 28 July: click here to be part of this important and stimulating event.