New science advice network established for French-speaking nations

Lindsay Borthwick
September 15, 2021

The International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA) has launched a forum for sharing science advice across the francophone world. The Division of Science Advice in the Francophonie (Réseau francophone en conseil scientifique) was launched at INGSA’s recent biannual conference by Rémi Quirion, Chief Scientist of Quebec and President of INGSA. 

The Division's objectives are to become a forum for knowledge sharing, supporting scientists and institutions who provide science advice, building capacity in science advice to governments and fostering greater collaboration on science advice among French-speaking countries.

Over the past decade, Quebec has emerged as a leader in evidence-based decision-making in the Francophonie, and for the past five years Quirion has worked to build and strengthen science advice mechanisms in the Francophone world, especially in Africa. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis, the need for new, culturally appropriate models of science advice has become more urgent, said Quirion in a recent interview with Research Money.

“In many countries, the [Commonwealth] model will not fly.... We also need to have a different language, different ways of saying things. Not just words in French or words in English, but the way you write, the way you deliver advice. So the cultural aspect of how you deliver science advice is something that INGSA would like to focus on in the future,” he said.

Alongside the launch, the Office of the Chief Scientist of Quebec released a draft document that summarizes the state of evidence-informed policymaking in the Francophonie and lays the foundation for the new division of INGSA. 

Lassina Zerbo, Secretary Emeritus of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization and a national of Burkino Faso, will chair the division's steering committee. Quirion, as well as Canada’s Chief Science Advisor, Mona Nemer, will represent North America on the committee alongside leaders from French-speaking nations in Europe, Africa and Asia.

In the coming months, a call for proposals will be issued to select the individuals who will develop and facilitate the division’s work. It will be supported by the Fonds de recherche du Québec.

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