Evidence-Based Policy-Making - Ph.D. Workshop 2010
In October and November of 2010, the Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center (PSC) organised a course on "Evidence-Based Policy-Making" as part of its Ph.D. program in plant sciences and policy. Holger Gerdes, Fellow at Ecologic Institute, supervised a group of Ph.D. students.
The aim of the course was to demonstrate to doctoral candidates how academic work can be used effectively to influence policy-makers. By addressing a broad range of issues closely associated with the science-policy interface, the Ph.D. students learned:
- how to effectively communicate research findings to policy-makers;
- how to develop research questions and agendas within the policy process;
- how to provide tools for policy-makers to access scientific information and expertise; and
- how to ensure transparency and evaluation of scientific results.
In total, three cases studies were designed that were meant to give the students an understanding of specific issues connected with the science-policy interface. Holger Gerdes was asked to design a case study on the "Assessment of the External Costs of Swiss Agriculture". For this case study, the students assessed the socio-economic consequences of the negative environmental effects produced by the agricultural sector. The students calculated the external costs of agriculture in monetary terms, making use of value transfer. The results of the exercise were discussed with policy-makers and other relevant stakeholders in order to evaluate whether economic assessments provide valid arguments to support political decisions.
The specific objectives of the case study were:
- to introduce the students into existing methods for the economic valuation of natural goods and services;
- to make them aware of the socio-economic impacts of agricultural externalities; and
- to provide them with insights on the potentials and obstacles for the uptake of economic assessments by political decision-makers.
At the end of the course, a workshop took place, in which the case study results were presented to experts from science and policy.