Public policy today is increasingly informed by science. Decisions which are made on topics such as climate change, pandemic preparedness, energy, and innovation can only benefit from a sound understanding of the science behind the issues.
The Council of Canadian Academies provides independent science-based, expert assessments (studies) that inform public policy development and decision making. The Council’s work encompasses a broad definition of science, incorporating the natural, social and health sciences as well as engineering and the humanities.
"The CCA publication on the Sustainable Management of Groundwater in Canada is an extremely timely document, as all levels of government and much of the private sector are seriously considering the impacts of limitations on water quality and quantity on society and business."
-David Rudolph, Professor, Dept. of Earth Sciences, University of Waterloo
Through its expert assessments the Council helps to identify: emerging issues; gaps in knowledge; Canadian strengths; and international trends and practices. Upon completion, assessments provide government decision-makers, academia and stakeholders with high-quality information required to develop informed and innovative public policy.
An assessment is initiated in response to a question submitted by a sponsor and is carried out by an independent, multidisciplinary panel of expert volunteers. A “sponsor” of an expert panel assessment is the official requester of an assessment question. The findings of an expert panel — i.e., the answers to the assessment question — are developed into a report which undergoes formal report review by expert peers to assure quality and objectivity. To protect the independence of the assessment process, sponsors do not participate in the assessment process, review drafts of the report, or propose any changes to the report before its publication. All final assessment reports are published and made available to the public free of charge in English and French.
Assessments can take many forms, including:
- assessment of the current state of knowledge;
- identification of knowledge gaps or opportunities;
- cost-benefit analysis;
- risk evaluation; and
- options for a science agenda.
Some assessment topics – up to five per year – are suggested by the Government of Canada, in accordance with the terms set out in its funding agreement with the Council. The Council may also conduct assessments outside this funding agreement. These assessments could be referred to the Council by foundations, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, or any level of government.
All assessment questions and the resulting reports, regardless of source, must be approved by the Council’s Board of Governors.
For information on the Council’s current assessments or details on how to sponsor an assessment visit the Assessments in Progress page and the Sponsor Information page respectively.
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“At a time when innovation and the discovery and application of new knowledge has never been more important, the Council of Canadian Academies continues to produce material that informs public discussion and to bring together some of the country’s top minds to help steer a path towards a better future.”
Jeffrey Simpson, Globe and Mail
“It is clear the Council is well on its way to becoming recognized as a powerful policy institute for all aspects of research critical to Canada and, at the same time, useful for science globally.”
Rita R. Colwell, Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park, and at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, and former Director of the National Science Foundation (1998-2004)