Details of science advice forum confirmed on global warming and pandemic readiness

Coalition’s independent science adviser to provide expert assistance in attempts to ‘address complex policy challenges’

The soon-to-be-appointed independent government science adviser will chair a new national science advice forum, comprising up to 12 experts drawn from those with internationally recognised scientific expertise in key disciplines. The appointee will provide advice on issues including climate change and pandemic preparedness.

Minister for Science Simon Harris has welcomed the process to appoint the new adviser and confirmed details of the support structure. Up to the end of 2021 the post was held by then Science Foundation Ireland director general Prof Mark Ferguson in a combined role.

The new position will be at an assistant secretary level and will be based in the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.

“This is a really exciting development. This new position will help us address complex policy challenges and provide important advice to Government. The person will be based in my department but will be providing advice on a range of issues facing the Government and the country such as climate change, pandemic preparedness and related matters,” said Mr Harris.


A crucial part of the role would be communicating complex topics to a wide audience and an ability to showcase the impact of science in people’s lives, he said.

The adviser will chair the forum and provide cross-sectoral and multidisciplinary science advice to the Government. The post was advertised recently.

The new science advice structures will assist in informing responses to complex and challenging policy issues like climate change, food sustainability, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and emerging technologies. They will also respond to needs identified by ministers and government departments, said Mr Harris.

The forum will have an annual work programme which will be reported to Government. The outcome of a public consultation along with international models has been considered in putting the structures in place that “will be integrated in the general public policymaking process and complement existing government actions”.

These structures bring Ireland in line with countries in Europe and beyond who have tailored advisory structures to meet their changing needs and “will maximise Ireland’s participation in international science advice organisations”, said the Minister.

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times