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Increasing the interface between science and public policy is essential

Increasing the interface between science and public policy is essential

With 468 municipalities affected, more than 2.3 million people were affected, of whom at least 581,000 were homeless and 163 people died. Until May 23The tragedy in Rio Grande do Sul is an example of the devastating impact of a combination of climate change and a lack of urban planning in Brazil.

The press has constantly invited researchers from various fields, such as ecology, geology and urbanism, to name a few, to comment on the different aspects of the disaster: the social, psychological, economic and environmental impacts, which have become part of the disaster. From the lives of the people of Rio Grande do Sul since April 27.

Science has been truly present in discussions about the causes of the disaster and its solutions. It is necessary to listen to the paths proposed by experts for reconstruction. However, there is another aspect that deserves our attention: to what extent are Brazilian public policies built on a scientific basis, which define central issues such as urban planning and the environment?

In your Latest article in The Conversation BrasilDean of the Federal University of Southern Bahia and geologist Joana Angelica Guimarães da Luz confirmed that in the past 10 years, more than 90% of Brazilian municipalities have been exposed to natural disasters such as floods, landslides, floods and flash floods. .

There are many reports and warnings made by scientists about the impact of climate change on urban centres. Recently, A An international study published by Puri Agency, which included the participation of researchers from the National Institute for Amazon Research (Inpa) and the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), highlighted six key points on how biodiversity can help mitigate the effects of climate change. In the article, the researchers call on those responsible for developing public policies to take urgent action to slow the loss of the planet’s aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

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Science must be actively present not only in reconstruction discussions, but in developing and proposing public policies. But what tools do we have to verify this engagement?

The literature examining this topic has highlighted the complexity of the interface between research and public policy. Political and institutional aspects, values ​​and social context can influence the use of scientific evidence, which can be mobilized in different ways. In the reality of Brazilian public administration, this use may be less than expected. For this reason, it is necessary to have indicators that allow us to analyze how they appear in this field.

Returning to the issue of environmental disasters, we can look for some clues as to how this happens Research has influenced relevant mitigation or prevention policies and practices. Through the Overton platform, which tracks research references in documents issued by governments, think tanks, and multilateral organizations, it is possible to identify 7,221 political documents that mention the term “environmental disaster.”

These documents were based on 145,912 articles, produced in 154 countries, with a notable presence of Brazilian researchers, especially from universities such as the University of São Paulo, the State University of Campinas, as well as the Federal Universities of Rio de Janeiro and Minas. Gerais, Rio Grande do Sul, Bahia, Santa Catarina, Pará, Vicosa, Pernambuco, among countless other places in all regions of the country.

Most of these documents are reports prepared by multilateral entities, in particular the United Nations (UN), which is responsible for 1,116 of the documents produced. Entities directly linked to the United Nations, such as the United Nations Environment Program (452 ​​documents) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (131 policy documents), also draw attention.

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When conducting the search using terms in Portuguese, a total of 1,410 policy documents related to the topic “environmental disasters” were identified. These documents are largely reports, plans and recommendations. Most of these documents fall within the scope of ministries such as Health (215), Education (121), Economy (115), Environment (62), Science and Technology (60). The National Agency for Basic Water and Sanitation has a total of 102 registered documents. They mention 13,760 articles, and again, Brazilian universities and research institutes are part of this list of publications.

The limitations of the Overton platform, especially regarding the coverage of policy documents written in Portuguese, reinforce doubts that there should be a greater number of policy documents in the country that address environmental disasters fueled by scientific research.

Research into the dynamics of research and its impact on public policy is fundamental to pressing issues such as climate change. There is a lot of scientific production conducted by different research groups in the country, which is of high quality and has had an impact on policy design.

Whether environmental disasters such as those in Rio Grande do Sul are related to a lack of scientific knowledge, to more and better policies, or to the ways in which these policies are implemented (or not), is a topic that needs study. Investigation.

The tragedy in Rio Grande do Sul requires urgent action to save hundreds of thousands of victims, and to give them the right to regain, in the shortest possible time, everything they should not have lost.

We, in academia, have a duty to investigate structural causes, and to show how to prevent new tragedies and quickly mitigate those that are unavoidable for whatever reason.

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*Evandro Cojo ChristofolettiPostdoctoral in Public Administration, State University of Campinas (Unicamp); Mariana Sissi, State University of Campinas (Unicamp) that it Sergio Salles FilhoProfessor, Department of Science and Technology Policy, Institute of Earth Sciences, State University of Campinas (Unicamp)

This article has been republished from Conversation Under Creative Commons license. Read the creative