As Program Manager at Ocean Science Trust, I have been working with the Ocean Protection Council Science Advisory Team (OPC-SAT) for over four years. I am often asked by researchers, their graduate students and other partners, how does science actually get linked with decision-making? And my answer is through the construction of pathways for science and scientists to the policy and management table. That, in a nutshell, is what is so special about the OPC-SAT: they are California’s built in pathway for the best thinking of the scientific community.
I am excited to introduce a new blog series on OceanSpaces bringing you perspectives straight from the scientists of the OPC-SAT. Over the coming months, they will share their ideas about everything from spanning the boundary between science and policy, to their own research, and its potential implications for our ocean and coastal ecosystems.
If you’ve never heard of the OPC-SAT, let me introduce them: they are a team of interdisciplinary scientists dedicated to working with decision-makers to strengthen the links between independent science, and policy and management in California. To learn more, visit their organizational page. At Ocean Science Trust, we coordinate all aspects of the OPC-SAT.For scientists, a pathway to relevance
For the scientists who join the OPC-SAT, it is not about advancing individual agendas. Rather it is about elevating the scientific community in the eyes of decision-makers while addressing their priority science needs. Whether it is through establishing working groups, scoping scientific panels, or recommending expert reviewers, OPC-SAT members engage additional scientists in all of their efforts.For decision-makers, a pathway to credible sources of knowledge
Policymakers and managers have to make decisions that impact people’s lives and the environment often with limited information. What the OPC-SAT provides is ready access to a credible and diverse body of scientific knowledge from which decision-makers can draw in planning action. The OPC-SAT also does not foist scientific results on decision-makers. They partner with them from the beginning, to deeply understand the science needs, and co-produce solutions.For other partners in the science policy boundary, a model pathway
Lastly, the OPC-SAT is a model for others to consider in designing ways to effectively link science with decision-making. We often say at Ocean Science Trust that it is not the conclusion that is key to science integration, it is the pathway by which you get there. Shaped by their scientific credibility, independent thinking, and breadth of expertise, the OPC-SAT is a robust pathway for scientists and decision-makers to come together.
I encourage everyone interested in strengthening the role of science in decision-making to keep up with and participate in the Perspectives from the OPC-SAT series. Please share your own thoughts and ideas in the comments section – we look forward to engaging with you as we all navigate the science policy boundary together. The first blog post from Bill Sydeman, President of the Farallon Institute, is up—Gone with the Wind? What climate-driven changes for wind intensity mean for California’s Ocean Health—and more are soon to come!