Environmental Policy News

Building Bridges Between Science and Policy Through the Royal Society Pairing Scheme

Modeling Scientist, Deep Banerjee from Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) is one of 30 UK scientists taking part in the prestigious Royal Society Pairing Scheme, designed to help build long-term relationships between scientists and politicians and ensure that policymakers can make informed decisions based on the best scientific evidence.

As part of the annual initiative, participants are being given a behind-the-scenes insight into how policy is formed, shadowing an MP or parliamentarian to learn about their work. They will hear from senior civil servants and parliamentarians on how research findings are used to inform policymaking and how they can best share their expertise with policymakers. As part of the 2024 scheme, Deep is paired with Luke Pollard, the MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport and Shadow Minister for Defense.

The week began with a parliamentary reception in the House of Commons, including speeches from Greg Clark MP (Chair of the Commons Science and Technology Committee), Andrew Griffith MP (Minister of State for Science, Research, and Innovation) and Sir Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society.

Scientists taking part in the pairing scheme this year are drawn from universities and research institutes across the UK. In addition to PML these include Newcastle University and Imperial College London. They are paired with parliamentarians including Chi Onwurah MP (Shadow Science Minister); Baroness Brown of Cambridge FRS (member of the House of Lords and Chair of its Science & Technology Committee); and civil servants from the Department for Education; Energy Security and Net Zero; and Business and Trade.

Deep said: “I’m extremely proud to be taking part in the pairing scheme, and the chance to get some valuable insight into the science-policy interface. It’s really important to me that my science has impact and so I’m looking forward to learning more about how UK policy can be informed and driven by the work undertaken by scientists like myself. I’m also really excited about spending time with Luke Pollard and his team, getting an understanding of the work involved being an MP and helping to improve the way we can inform policymakers.”

Luke Pollard MP, Labor and Co-operative Member of Parliament for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport and Shadow Armed Forces Minister, said: “Science plays a critical role in driving our understanding of the world and supporting decision-making at the highest levels. The pairing scheme provides a valuable opportunity to build engagement and knowledge-sharing between scientists and politicians and I’ve greatly enjoyed hosting Dr. Banerjee over the past week”.

The scheme continues later in the year when parliamentarians visit their paired scientist at their home institutions. Previous participants from PML include Dr. Lee De Mora (2023), Dr. Liz Talbot (2022), Dr. Matthew Frost (2017), and Dr. Caroline Hattam (2015).

Sir Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society, said: “Scientific evidence is essential for any government to address many of the global challenges that affect both the UK and world at large, from climate change to the rapid acceleration of AI technologies. The pairing scheme was set up in 2001 to help build bridges between scientists and policy makers, providing them with the opportunity to develop long-term relationships to ensure that robust scientific evidence is used to shape public policy. We must continue to strengthen these collaborations to ensure research is translated into policy that improves the lives of all of those in the UK.”

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