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NEW APPROACHES NEEDED TO IMPROVE ENVIRONMENTAL DECISIONMAKING

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  • Potter at Island Resources
    [One of the themes that we ve been making for the past couple of years is that the environmental community in the insular Caribbean needs to assume
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 28, 2001
      [One of the themes that we've been making for the past couple of
      years is that the environmental community in the insular Caribbean
      needs to assume responsibility for making information about critical
      environmental issues so compelling that policy makers use the
      information preferentially in their decision-making---call it the
      "marketing strategy" of environmental policy making.

      I think that's one of the points of this new report from the US
      National Council for Science and the Environment. bp]

      The [US] National Council for Science and the Environment
      "Improving the scientific basis for making decisions on environmental issues"

      April 23, 2001

      REPORT PRESENTS RECOMMENDATIONS OF FIRST NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON
      SCIENCE, POLICY AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

      EXPERTS SAY NEW APPROACHES ARE NEEDED TO IMPROVE AND EXPEDITE
      ENVIRONMENTAL DECISIONMAKING

      LANDMARK REPORT TO BE RELEASED ON EARTH DAY BRIEFINGS SCHEDULED FOR
      CAPITOL HILL AND IN AGENCIES

      On Earth Day 2001, the National Council for Science and the
      Environment (NCSE) is releasing a report reflecting the views of many
      of the nation's leading environmental scientists and decisionmakers
      calling for major changes in the relationship between science and
      environmental policy. The report emphasizes the need for
      "significant" investment in new approaches to science and for changes
      in governmental organization to address "serious voids" that impede
      efforts to acquire and translate scientific knowledge.

      The report, which offers specific recommendations for improving the
      scientific basis for environmental decisionmaking, is based on
      deliberations by more than 450 scientists, policymakers, and
      stakeholders from a broad range of disciplines, interests, and
      locales. The group was convened late last year as the first National
      Conference on Science, Policy, and the Environment. NCSE asked
      participants to assess the current state of environmental
      decisionmaking in the United States and to advise the incoming
      Administration and the new Congress on needed improvements. The
      results are contained in a new report entitled "Recommendations for
      Improving the Scientific Basis for Environmental Decisionmaking,"
      which can be found at www.cnie.org/2000conference Printed copies
      are available from NCSE: staff@... or 202-530-5810.

      NCSE has scheduled a series of briefings to present the report:

      Wednesday April 25 at the National Science Foundation
      A Capitol Hill press briefing Thursday, April 26 at 10:00 a.m.,
      chaired by NCSE President Ambassador Richard Benedick, and featuring
      remarks by members of the Science Committee of the U.S. House of
      Representatives.
      Friday April 26 at 10:30 a.m. in the Science Committee Hearing Room
      2325 Rayburn House Office Building, for Congressional staff and
      interested public
      At a date and location to be determined for Senate staff and interested public
      May 18 at the National Academy of Sciences

      To arrange for a briefing for your organization, contact Rob Viehl at
      202-530-5810; staff@...


      REPORT PRESENTS RECOMMENDATIONS OF FIRST NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON
      SCIENCE, POLICY AND THE ENVIRONMENT


      The report addresses the environmental challenges now facing our
      society through a detailed set of recommendations compiled by 14
      expert working groups that met during the conference. Among the
      issues deliberated were:

      Biodiversity and Ecosystem Health
      Environmental Implications of Biotechnology
      Environmental Indicators
      Federal Government Structure
      Global Environmental Change
      Higher Education
      Human Health and the Environment
      Information Systems
      Invasive Species
      Pollution Prevention/Waste Management
      Population and the Environment
      Public Education
      Sustainable Communities
      Sustainable Resource Management


      A New Interdisciplinary Science of Sustainability



      The report calls for a new interdisciplinary science of sustainability
      that integrates:

      Economic Security
      Ecological Integrity, and
      Social Equity.

      Sustainability Science seeks to improve upon the substantial, but
      still limited, understanding of nature-society interactions. It aims
      to provide a better understanding of the complex dynamic interactions
      between human society and nature so that the alarming trends towards
      increasing vulnerability are reversed. Achieving sustainability will
      not only require changes in scientific collaborations and mindsets,
      but also changes in the institutions that fund and communicate
      science.


      New Entities Would Encourage Collaboration and Communication


      In addition to various programs recommended for development by key
      players such as the National Science Foundation, the National Academy
      of Sciences/National Research Council, and the Environmental
      Protection Agency, the report also advocates forming new or
      reinvigorated entities, including:

      a National Environmental Information Infrastructure that would
      support intensified public information, education, and training on
      environmental issues,
      a Bureau of Environmental Statistics, analogous to the Bureau of
      Labor Statistics, that would provide periodic "state-of-the-science"
      reports on key environmental issues,
      a Joint Committee on the Environment in the U.S. Congress, analogous
      to the Joint Economic Committee,
      a resurrected Office of Technology Assessment,
      Policy Centers within all federal science and resource management agencies.

      In addition to the clear need for additional funding and programs,
      the report also addresses how possible savings in both time and money
      could be realized. For instance, the report discusses how crucial it
      is to identify and coordinate the missions and activities of the
      numerous governmental, quasi-governmental, and nongovernmental
      organizations involved in environmental decisionmaking to avoid
      duplication of effort and to create synergy. Further, the report
      asserts that "the breadth, depth, and diversity of the scientific
      specialties involved make interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary
      approaches essential."

      Underscored throughout the report is the contention that sound
      environmental decisionmaking is dependent on "an effective interface
      between scientists and policymakers and the reliable and timely
      translation of information and views between the two communities."
      The report further emphasizes "the need for science-based education
      at every level of society if the general public and their elected
      public officials are to make informed, effective, and timely
      decisions."

      Conference video tapes available from NCSE

      Copies of video tapes from the conference, including the John H.
      Chafee Memorial Lecture on Science and the Environment, presented by
      Nobel Laureates F. Sherwood Rowland and Mario Molina, are available
      for $20 each from NCSE - see www.cnie.org/2000conference/tapes or
      contact staff@... for details.

      For copies of the report, more detailed information on briefings, and
      assistance in scheduling briefings or interviews, contact:

      David Blockstein at david@... and (202) 530-5810, ext. 205,
      Rob Viehl at staff@... and (202) 530-5810 or
      Deborah Strauss at dstrausslynch@... and (202) 530-5810 or
      (301) 229-3123.

      On December 6 and 7, 2001, the National Museum of Natural History of
      the Smithsonian Institution and the National Council for Science and
      the Environment will host the second National Conference on Science,
      Policy and the Environment, with a theme of Sustainable Communities:
      Science and Solutions.

      Additional information about other activities of NCSE is available at
      www.cnie.org
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