A Sharp Line: Prof dr. Rudy Rabbinge elaborates on the value of a clear distinction between your role as scientist, activist or politician, based on his experiences. Political choices have to be made in every policy of institutions like the World Bank, the CGIAR and the UN, but where do you draw the line? What are the lessons learned and is there a fundamental difference between the international and the Dutch context?
Scientists often think their work is policy-relevant, and by sending reports and scientific papers to the Ministry, it will translate into a policy by itself. But between science and policies, there is politics. And politics is not just about adopting relevant scientific discourses. Politicians choose their topics with their voters in the back of their minds, considering e.g. ‘How can I get more time on radio, television, social media, and in the newspaper’ Time is limited and lots of policy-relevant reports end up in drawers. How does this work? Which scientific outputs really hit the target? And how come we as scientists have such a rudimentary knowledge about how the political system works?
In this series we will discuss to what extent knowledge is used in the Dutch and international political arena. Is knowledge driving political decision making? Is there a regular influx of knowledge into the political arena, or is it more incident-based? And what is more important to get something on the political agenda: the relevancy of the message, the way the message is brought across or the lobby and advocacy involved?
Dr. Rudy Rabbinge is University Professor Emeritus in Sustainable Development and Food Security at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Rabbinge was chair of the Inter-Academy Panel on Food Security and Agricultural Productivity in Africa and member of the Board of Directors of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). He served in different responsibilities in Academia and cooperative private companies and in politics. He was a member of the First Chamber in Dutch parliament from 1999 till 2007. He holds degrees in phytopathology, entomology, theoretical production ecology and philosophy of science from Wageningen University. At present he functions as a Special Envoy for Food Security in the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs and Foreign Affairs.