Conference Vision

Science in Environmental Decision-Making

Science is critically important to environmental decision-making. From U.S.-based laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Water Act, and Clean Air Act to international treaties such as the Montreal Protocol, these science-based environmental policies are fundamental to protecting Earth’s core ecosystem services. In today’s world, where environmental challenges have grown more complex, the risks are greater, and the stakes are higher, the role of science in environmental decision-making remains as essential as ever. 

Twenty years ago, the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) hosted its first annual conference focused on its mission to improve the scientific basis of environmental decision-making. This inaugural conference challenged participants to envision a society where environmental decisions are based on an accurate understanding of the underlying science and where environmental decision-makers receive and act upon credible science-based information.  

NCSE will mark its 30th year as an organization in 2020 by mirroring the theme of our inaugural conference, Science in Environmental Decision-Making, for the NCSE 2020 Annual Conference. Through the Annual Conference, NCSE will explore the various ways that science serves the decision-making process and how science contributes to the process by which decisions are made, highlighting cases in which science has helped improve environmental decisions as well as examples in which a lack of science has compromised the efficacy of decisions and policies. 

NCSE 2020 will help chart a course toward a future in which the science-policy interface is robust and foundational to environmental decision-making. The Annual Conference will bring together scientists, decision-makers, industry leaders, and subject-matter experts to effectively bridge the cultures of science and policymaking toward a more resilient and sustainable future.

Vision for NCSE 2020: Looking Forward
NCSE leaders recognize 2020 as a pivotal year including major national and state level elections in the United States as well as continued progress globally on a range of multilateral environmental agreements. NCSE will link NCSE 2020: Science in Environmental Decision-Making to concrete outcomes useful to scientists, government, industry, and nonprofit leaders. NCSE 2020 outcomes will include a series of resources that synthesize relevant research on key topics and identify future research needs in a format that can be used by decision-makers at all levels of government and across all sectors while maintaining a nonpartisan approach. The priority for NCSE and its community is to make science accessible and increase its value for and use by decision-makers at all levels of government and across all relevant sectors in service to society and the environment. 


Priority Topics at NCSE 2020

  • Boundary Spanning Between Science and Policy
  • Environmental Law and Decision-Making
  • Policy Perspectives and Historical Examples
  • Emerging Issues in Environmental Science and Policy
  • Environmental Markets and Finance