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Ethical challenges at the science-policy interface: an ethical risk assessment and proposition of an ethical infrastructure
- Tremblay, Maryse, Vandewalle, Marie, Wittmer, Heidi
- Biodiversity and conservation 2016 v.25 no.7 pp. 1253-1267
- biodiversity, ethics, governance, infrastructure, issues and policy, politics, risk, risk assessment, stakeholders
- Developing an interface between knowledge holders, stakeholders and decision makers on biodiversity issues, just as any science-policy interface, will face many challenges. In the crucial endeavour to tackle all those challenges, determining an ethical course of actions will be essential to the prestige and credibility of such an interface. The paper identifies and assesses potential ethical risks that may arise in interactions between science, society and policy and uses the Network of Knowledge (NoK) process as an example to show how an ethical infrastructure could be developed for minimizing the ethical risks and their potential consequences. Indeed, when various actors from different spheres (politics, academia, lobbyism, media, etc.) are called upon to interact within one process as complex as the NoK, the integrity and credibility of the latter are at high risk of being compromised if the ethical risks are not adequately addressed. In order to limit those risks, which science-policy interfaces such as IPCC and IPBES have already encountered, we propose to set up an ethical governance infrastructure that will guide (and regulate) interactions among internal actors of the NoK (knowledge coordination body, secretariat, expert working groups, etc.) as well as with external actors (requesters, stakeholders, etc.). A thorough evaluation of the interaction between the actors for every step of the process is carried out and potential ethical risks are identified. Suggestions as to how the risks can be handled and prevented are presented and integrated as part of an ethical infrastructure. The main objective of the paper is to address how a science-policy interface and the scientific community as a whole would benefit from implementing ethical measures and instruments to help prevent sensitive issues and undesired consequences undermining credibility and legitimacy.