Message from the President

Published On: November 2022Categories: 2022 Editorial, 2022 Magazine, Canadian Science Policy Magazine
A banner with the title "Message from the president: the challenge of science in support of public policy in and uncertain time" with the headshot of a white man


Mehrdad Harriri

Canadian Science Policy Center

President and CEO

We at the CSPC team are pleased to offer you the fourth edition of the Canadian Science Policy Magazine. The fourth edition sets new records for the number of papers. It presents high-quality pieces covering a wide range of topics and the overall conference motto: “Navigating Uncertainty, Targeting Sustainability.” 

This is the reality of our time, uncertainty on all fronts, and how we can transition to a more stable era, and how effectively science can support policymaking in this transition. 

Major global challenges such as climate change, public health, geopolitical shifts, war on Ukraine, economic recession, inflation, supply chain disruptions, energy dilemmas, labour shortage, and major social changes all together portray a gloomy future. But what is the role of science in all this?   

Three years after the pandemic’s beginning, on top of healthcare-related concerns, we are heading to a new era of global economic recession. Canadians are already experiencing higher prices for basic goods. September 2022 hit a record high of 8,1% inflation rates compared to the usual annual 2-3%. 

The current geopolitical shocks are also increasing uncertainty. The war on Ukraine has consequences that far exceed the Ukrainian border. The fragmentation of the energy agreements with Russia, one of the world’s leading exporters of gas and oil, has led the global energy market to experience an unprecedented shock. While the post- COVID 19 era has increased the demand for energy and production, the high-energy costs and the conflict in Ukraine have pushed states to find other ways to meet their energy demands. Consumers pay double the price of gas compared to 2021, production costs have increased the price of most products, and some countries are running out of energy reserves to meet their basic needs. The latter has catastrophic consequences for the environment as some countries are reactivating their coal-fired power plants, which consequently slows down the fight against climate change. Canadians are also suffering from high gas prices, yet the road to a green energy transition is still challenging.

Crises are known for increasing social inequalities, which can produce civil unrest and polarize societies. In times of pandemic, for example, it is not uncommon for governments to increase their public spending in an effort to reduce high inflation rates and keep the unemployment index down. The downside of this response is that it might create economic stagnation and more salary inequalities in the long run. In times of crisis, we must act fast by making the right decisions for the present and future. 

Yet, in a post-truth era of misinformation, science, too, along with other societal institutions, has been treated with skepticism and mistrust. In many instances, “truth” has been replaced by “belief”; “reasoning” has been replaced by “dogmas” and information by “fake news.” 

The results of this mistrust against the information we receive produce a global sentiment of uncertainty that defines multiple facades of our daily life. It is a unique situation for our generation that we must face many dimensions of uncertainty that are different and linked to one another. 

All these present a challenging time ahead toward sustainability. The role of science in supporting public policy, in supporting our institutions and our democracies and global cooperation is far more critical than perhaps any time. 

The intersection of science and policy will continue to be even more critical. At CSPC, we are committed to being an open and inclusive forum and medium for connecting the two worlds of science and policy for a better transition to a more stable time.