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Potočnik says policy research undervalued

Scientific research that is performed to support policy decisions is vital and should be better rewarded, EU Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potočnik has written in an editorial for the newsletter of the European Commission’s Joint Research Council, out this week.

Potočnik wrote that the EU needs research on which to base environmental policy, but pointed out that this research does not offer the typical rewards to researchers of peer-reviewed publications or patents for commercialisation. He wrote: “The lack of reward mechanisms consequently attracts less interest and investment. I am very much aware that we need to look more closely at ways of rewarding such research.”

He said that the requirement for research funded by the EU to support policy, described in the legislative proposal for Europe’s research and innovation programme Horizon 2020, is a positive step for raising the profile of policy research.

He went on to say that input from both natural and social scientists is important for policy making. Changes in our behaviour are needed to address the environmental problems we face, he said, and making these changes requires input from social scientists.