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Office of the Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor

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My primary task is to give the Prime Minister strategic and operational advice on science and science policy issues. Although in some countries Chief Science Advisors also act as the chief executive of the science system, this is not the case with respect to my role. I want to emphasise that I will have no role in funding decisions and will not become a conduit to those who do make such decisions – my role is different and must be distinct.

I will operate in five primary domains.

The first is to advise on matters of science policy in areas where the Prime Minister specifically requests. It is certainly not my role to get into the operational aspects of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment or indeed the other Ministries that have science-related budgets (such as agriculture, environment and health). Rather, I will help to develop science and innovation policies that transcend individual agencies and ministries.

Secondly, I have a role of advising on specific matters related to science. In general this will be in the form of formally commissioned reports that will summarise the evidence base to suggest a specific mode of action or secondly where new scientific developments create either opportunity or risk. Again, I anticipate that my role will be limited to situations where my independence and hopefully high public respect can add value beyond what can come from departmental or sectoral advice.

The third domain is to promote the public understanding of, and engagement with, science, particularly with young people. I believe that the widening gulf between science and society is a critical issue. It is one that underlies many of the recent contentious debates we have had in this country, for example folate supplementation of bread. If science is to be at the heart of transforming New Zealand, then scientists have a duty to explain their work to the public and to encourage children to see science in their future. My own institute has made a large investment in encouraging school teachers and students to access and interact with the scientific research community (the LENScience initiative) and I see part of my role as encouraging similar initiatives across the country.

The fourth domain is in building international relationships. Science can be an important diplomatic tool, generating trust and confidence between nations and opening strategic opportunities for cooperation. My office will develop relationships with similar offices in other countries, particularly the UK, Australia, the USA and other small advanced economies like New Zealand, and there is much good-will towards us in this endeavour – New Zealand may be a small nation, but the quality of our science brings us respect beyond our size.

Fifth and finally, I will serve as a conduit of alerts that might arise where scientific progress shows either opportunity or threat for New Zealand. I will not be a lobby for individual science projects, but where scientists see something emerging that they think policy makers need to be aware of, I can assist with communication.

- Professor Sir Peter Gluckman

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12 Apr 2017
The report is in two sections. The first is a summary report written from the Office of the Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor with the assistance of the Departmental Science Advisors from the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for the Environment. This overview avoids technical detail but tries to explain the core issues of public concern that have implications for policy...
May 2016
This paper is Part 1 in a series of three discussion papers that aims to provide a broad frame of reference for discussion of risk in the New Zealand context. The over-arching theme of the series is ‘decision-making under uncertainty’, because some degree of uncertainty underlies virtually all choices we make, both as individuals and collectively as a society. This first paper deals with the...
Aug 2014
20 August 2014 Dr Roger Blakeley Chief Planning Officer Auckland Council Dear Dr Blakeley In February this year, on behalf of several Councils, you made similar requests to the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor (PMCSA), the Royal Society of New Zealand (RSNZ), and the Ministry of Health, to review the scientific evidence for and against the efficacy and safety of fluoridation...
The first Science Advice to Governments conference took place in Auckland New Zealand on August 28-29, 2014. The meeting was co-hosted by the Office of Sir Peter Gluckman, Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of New Zealand and the International Council for Science (ICSU) and was timed to immediately precede ICSU’s General Assembly of national members and scientific unions also held in...
Sep 2013
At the request of the Prime Minister, this report has been designed to explore in greater detail the issues that were brought to light in an earlier discussion paper, Towards better use of evidence in policy formation (2011). This paper extends that discussion and makes some specific suggestions as to how to improve the use of robust evidence in policy formation and evaluation. The report is...
Jul 2013
The purpose of this report is to provide New Zealand with an update on the current scientific understandings of climate change and the ways in which it is likely to affect New Zealand over coming years and decades. My Office has been assisted by some of New Zealand’s leading climate scientists in preparing this report. The report focuses particularly on describing likely effects on various...
Apr 2013
In 2011, I released a discussion paper entitled Towards better use of evidence in policy formation which discussed the interaction between knowledge and policy making. It points out that the process of policy formation is improved if evidence is first incorporated in a value-free manner and only then should the various values-laden domains such as public opinion, fiscal priorities, diplomatic...
Dec 2012
Publically funded science systems around the world are undergoing considerable change. In part this change reflects society’s wish, manifest through the political process, to see an ever-greater utilitarian role for science. The current systems largely evolved after the Second World War when, while the utilitarian purpose of science was understood, it was not necessarily seen as the dominant...
10 May 2011
Many people directly experiencing a major natural disaster such as an earthquake will experience psychosocial effects – both individual psychological effects impacting on how people feel and social effects impacting on how they relate to each other. Indeed, such effects are inevitable and a normal part of human psychology. However, there is considerable variation in individual and social...
May 2011
  The Prime Minister Rt Hon. John Key Parliament Buildings Wellington 6160 9 May 2011 Dear Prime Minister Improving the transition: reducing social and psychological morbidity during adolescence In October 2009 you requested me to provide a report focused on how we may improve the outcomes for young people in their transition from childhood to adulthood. Your request...

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