Science Advice – Way Forward for SIFC 

The provision of effective science advice to governments is not only crucial at the national level but also holds significance regionally and globally.

In an increasingly complex geopolitical situation, policymakers face the unapproachable task of navigating a myriad of societal challenges and scientific expansions while crafting policies that effectively address the needs and aspirations of their constituents.

In this multifaceted landscape, the integration of scientific evidence alongside societal values and political judgement becomes imperative for designing policies that are both effective and responsive to the evolving needs of society.

Policymakers, including ministers, members of parliaments, and other decision-makers, are anticipated to consider scientific evidence together with societal values and political considerations when formulating new policies. This necessitates a delicate balancing act, wherein empirical data and expert analysis provide a foundation for informed decision-making, while societal values and political judgment shape the broader context within which policies are developed and implemented.

The provision of effective science advice to governments is not only crucial at the national level but also holds significance regionally and globally. To effectively provide evidence-based insights for decision-making, science advice integrates two essential functions: evidence synthesis and knowledge brokerage.

Evidence synthesis involves the comprehensive review and integration of existing scientific knowledge on a specific issue, drawing upon insights from multiple disciplines and considering diverse perspectives and framings. Science advisors methodically gather and evaluate relevant literature, research findings, and data to provide policymakers with a holistic understanding of the topic at hand.

On the other hand, knowledge brokerage focuses on translating scientific evidence into actionable insights that can inform decision-making and policy implementation. Science advisors play a crucial role in helping policymakers interpret and contextualise scientific information, draw evidence-based conclusions, and identify strategies for implementing recommended actions.

The Government of Pakistan (GoP) established the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) to serve as a key decision-making body, bringing together representatives from the government, including both federal and provincial levels, as well as the military.

Though the primary goal of the SIFC is to ensure continuity and predictability in economic policymaking while also generating innovative strategies to revive economic growth amidst the current crisis. Its overarching objective is to attract more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into five strategic sectors: defense, agriculture, minerals, information technology, and energy.

Consequently, the revitalization of Pakistan’s economy via the SIFC requires science-based and expert-guided planning, along with truthful execution. Engaging with science specialists and the scientific community, valuing their science advice and perspectives, and undertaking thorough long-term planning efforts can lay the groundwork for durable financial growth.

The goal of science advice is to assess policies through a scientific lens, utilizing evidence that is deemed valid, relevant, and reliable. Yet, many countries, particularly those in the developing world, grapple with the challenge of establishing robust frameworks for delivering science advice to policymakers.

Unlike their counterparts in developed nations, where streamlined and transparent processes exist to identify issues, review scientific literature, evaluate costs and benefits, engage with stakeholders, and communicate science advice, E.g., countries such as France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Poland, and Hungary have established in-house research services for members of parliament or parliamentary committees.

Unfortunately, Pakistan faces challenges similar to those of many developing countries, where effective structures and processes for delivering science advice to the government are lacking.

In Pakistan, efforts to develop similar mechanisms are still invisible, highlighting the need for continued investment in scientific infrastructure and capacity-building to strengthen the country’s ability to utilise science advice for informed policymaking.

Addressing this gap requires prioritising the establishment of effective structures and processes for delivering science advice to the Government of Pakistan (GoP). This necessitates investing in scientific capacity-building, fostering collaboration between academia and government institutions, and promoting transparency and accountability in decision-making processes.

By undertaking these measures, Pakistan can harness the power of science to confront pressing challenges and advance sustainable development, benefiting both its citizens and the global community.