EU Science Hub

Serving society through science – the JRC at the world's biggest annual science gathering

Feb 15 2017

The JRC provides scientific support to EU policy makers to deliver a Europe that protects, empowers and defends. During the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), held in Boston this year, this support will be illustrated through showcasing JRC activities in combating nuclear terrorism, spurring policy innovations and strengthening European scientific advisory structures.

The JRC participates in several scientific sessions at AAAS to look into different practices in which evidence informs policy, as well as in a media briefing on EU scientific advisory structures and in a series of 'serious games' providing a platform for out of the box thinking on policy challenges.

Nuclear forensics to combat terrorism

Given that nuclear terrorism is global and nuclear security events often cross national borders, international efforts are indispensable. Nuclear forensics plays a key role in this process by providing information to policy makers and law enforcement. International efforts aim to make core capabilities and rapid and reliable support to law enforcement available in many countries, but some activities require cutting-edge technology and science that is not available everywhere. Experts from the JRC, US and Australia will discuss results and challenges in nuclear forensics outreach and networking and explore their importance to law enforcement, regulators, and policymakers.

Mapping the impact of humans on the face of the earth

More than four decades of global land observations provide a unique scientific evidence base of how and where 7+ billion humans have changed the face of our planet. This presentation brings together leading actors from the field of global land observations, such as the JRC, NASA and USGS, using concrete examples such as the JRC's Global Surface Water Explorer to discuss those changes and what their consequences might be in terms of risk, recovery and resilience for the planet's future - and ours.

The rise of the rest? Science cooperation and competition in a multipolar world

Over the past decade, the U.S. share in the global production of high impact papers has declined compared to Europe and China. Some people welcome the increasing competition for scientific leadership while others insist that a cooperative model offers many benefits, especially for addressing global challenges. In this talk, experts from the EU, US and China consider some of the central science policy questions of our time: How can countries improve the quality of their scientific output? What is the impact of these trends on their innovation potential? Should nations bolster specific subjects to maintain their competitive position and should they seek to create strategic specializations? What are the costs and benefits of competition for scientific excellence, and what can we gain from collaboration in a rebalancing world order?

Making sense of an abundance of knowledge to inform policymaking

A particular challenge for policymakers today is the abundance, not the scarcity, of knowledge. Using scientific evidence to effectively inform policy requires better coordination of both the supply and demand of policy-relevant knowledge. There are different approaches to addressing these challenges, and the JRC is experimenting with many of them: “knowledge and competence” centres; “what works” centres and international systematic reviews. Speakers form the European Parliament, the JRC and the US will consider the lessons learned, merits, and transferability of these different, but complementary, approaches.

From car emissions to cybersecurity: How Europe strengthens its science advisory structures

The JRC will also participate at a media briefing at AAAS about recent developments aimed at strengthening the science advisory structures of the European Union. Participants include evidence providers as well as EU political decision makers making use of such evidence.

Serious games for serious policy insights

A complex, fragmented and hyperconnected world faces challenges that require out of the box, innovative policy making. The JRC's EU Policy Lab is a collaborative and experimental space that combines foresight, behavioural insights and design thinking to explore, connect and find solutions for better policies.

One of its flagship projects is the Scenario Exploration System, or SES. The SES is a role-playing game engaging participants in exploration and creation of unique stories, by taking action into possible futures as a policy-maker, a business, or a civil society organisation – while the public voice observes and reacts according to its interests. The objective of the SES is to provide a platform that engages players in holistic thinking and acting using the future for strategic development, preparedness, etc.

During AAAS, the EU Policy Lab will run several registration-only sessions of the SES.


The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal, Science. AAAS was founded in 1848, and includes some 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Every year thousands of leading scientists, engineers, educators, policymakers, and journalists gather to discuss recent developments in science and technology.

The JRC has taken part in the scientific programme of the AAAS annual meeting since 2008 with topics ranging from space weather, Earth observation, nanotechnologies, alternative methods to animal testing, to nuclear detection and waste management.