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Science Advice for Policy by European Academies

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SAPEA (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies)

Reporting period: 2018-05-01 to 2019-10-31

The “Science Advice for Policy by European Academies” (SAPEA) project is part of the Scientific Advice Mechanism of the European Commission (SAM), which supports the College of Commissioners with high quality, timely and independent scientific advice for its policy-making activities. SAPEA brings together the five European Academy Networks: Academia Europaea, ALLEA, EASAC, Euro-CASE and FEAM. Through these Academy Networks, the SAPEA project pools the resources of around 100 individual science academies, each with hundreds of Fellows, in over 40 countries across Europe. While the individual Academy Networks are specialised in certain scientific areas, the SAPEA project combines these respective areas of expertise and ensures the inclusion of all scientific disciplines (social, human, natural, engineering and medical sciences). In addition, SAPEA includes Fellows of Young academies and early career scientists in its activities.

In view of the increasing complexity of today’s societal challenges and the growing need for independent interdisciplinary scientific evidence to inform policymaking, the project’s core objectives are:
• to provide science-based policy advice and scientific inputs in different formats, in particular Evidence Review Reports, to inform the Scientific Opinion of the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors of the European Commission and the wider public; and
• to strengthen cooperation and foster synergies between the Academy Networks and their member academies, as well as to make the existing structures more sustainable.
The working groups comprising the academy Fellows and other outstanding experts are the key component in providing interdisciplinary scientific policy advice. Topics for SAM stem either from the European Commission when requesting scientific advice for a specific policy issue or may be proposed by SAPEA or the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors.

SAPEA also raises awareness of scientific advice and evidence in policymaking and stimulates the debate in Europe on these issues. A dedicated communications office supports the communication and dissemination of the project’s results which are also published on the project´s website: www.sapea.info.
One of the first tasks of SAPEA was to develop “Guidelines on advising policymakers and society” and “Procedures for quality assurance of scientific advice”. Further, a database of reports from individual academies across Europe and from the Academy Networks was established in 2017 and is publicly available on the website www.sapea.info.

In 2016 and 2017 Academy Fellows and experts, nominated by the academies, actively contributed to the following Explanatory Notes and Scientific Opinions of the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors (the Group):
• ‘Cybersecurity in the European digital single market’, requested by Vice President Ansip and Commissioner Oettinger, Scientific Opinion published in March 2017,
• ‘New techniques in agricultural biotechnology’, requested by Commissioner Andriukaitis, Explanatory Note published in April 2017.

Between 2017 and 2019, SAPEA produced the following Evidence Review Reports which informed the related Scientific Opinion of the Group:
• ‘Food from the Oceans’, requested by Commissioner Vella, published in November 2017,
• ‘Novel carbon capture and utilisation technologies: research and climate aspects’, requested by Commissioner Cañete, published in May 2018,
• ‘Improving authorisation processes for plant protection products in Europe’, requested by Commissioners Andriukaitis and Moedas, published in June 2018,
• A Scientific perspective on microplastics in nature and society, proposed by the Group to the European Commission, published in January 2019,
• ‘Transforming the future of Ageing’, proposed by SAPEA, published in June 2019,
• ‘Making sense of science for policy under conditions of complexity and uncertainty’, proposed by the Group, published in July 2019.

In 2017, SAPEA organised two workshops on ‘Best practices of Interaction between Academies and with policymakers’ in Madrid and Bucharest. The workshops brought together 80 participants from 25 countries and 52 national academies and were the first opportunity for an inter-academy exchange of information amongst academies with backgrounds from humanities, medicine, science and technology in Europe.
SAPEA organised and participated in a series of public events designed to promote evidence about the topics mentioned above. The events proved to be very successful with regard to animating public debate. The overviews on the events and media coverage are published on the project website.

Good examples of success include the organisation of two international conferences and the publication of the outcomes in two reports:
• ‘Crossing boundaries - new approaches to science for policy in Europe’, which took place as part of the programme of the Estonian Presidency of the European Council in October 2017 in Tallinn and was hosted by the Estonian Academy of Sciences,
• ‘Shaping European Science Advice: Insights and Experiences’ which took place as part of the programme of the Bulgarian Presidency of the European Council in May 2018 in Sofia and was hosted by the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

Representatives of the wider global scientific community, world class scientists and researchers, civil society organisations, citizens' groups, the private sector, policymakers, and other networks, as well as excellent young researchers were all active in either working groups, expert workshops, stakeholder meetings of the Group and public events.
SAPEA will continue to be a part of the Scientific Advice Mechanism of the European Commission (SAM) which supports the College of Commissioners with high quality, timely and independent scientific advice for its policy-making activities.

The results expected by the end of the project mainly include Evidence Review Reports on scientific topics requested either by the European Commission or proposed by the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors or SAPEA.

Examples of forthcoming topics include ‘Climate Change and Health’, ‘Sustainable Food Systems’ and others.

As part of the SAM, SAPEA will continue to serve the College of Commissioners as well as the wider public as an independent source of scientific advice and evidence. It will continue its communications, dissemination and outreach activities and actively promote scientific knowledge around past and future topics.

A ‘Sustainability Study’ will produce a plan to optimise internal and external governance and future operating structures.

Further impacts may also result from the increasingly effective links between individual academies and the European Academy Networks, as well as from the stronger operational links between Academies and Academy Networks in their relationship and work with the institutions of the EU.
2018 WP5 Academies’ interaction workshop Madrid. Source: SAPEA
Sept 2019 Handover MASOS ERR, European R&I days. Source: SAPEA
Summer 2019 Elements of the microplastics escape room, World Oceans Day, Sopot, Poland: Source SAPEA
SAPEA Logo
Nov 2017 Handover FFO ERR and Group`s SO to Commrs Moedas and Vella. Source: EC
Dec 2019 SAPEA ERRS published to date. Source: SAPEA
Jan 2019 Handover NMP ERR. Source: SAPEA
Oct 2019 Handover TFA ERR. Source: SAPEA