Sir Peter Gluckman, Director of Koi Tū and ex-Chief Science Advisor to New Zealand's Prime Minister




About Sir Peter Gluckman


Professor Sir Peter Gluckman ONZ KNZM FRSNZ FRS trained as a paediatrician and biomedical scientist and holds a Distinguished University Professorship at the Liggins Institute of the University of Auckland. He also holds honorary chairs in University College London, University of Southampton and National University of Singapore (where he acts as chief science advisor to the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences). He has published over 700 scientific papers in perinatal and developmental physiology, neuroscience and endocrinology, evolutionary biology and medicine. He has authored both technical and popular science books. He chaired the WHO Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity (2014-2017).


Sir Peter is chair of the International Network of Government Science Advice (INGSA) and president-elect of the International Science Council (ISC). From 2009-2018 he was first Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of New Zealand. He was also Science Envoy for the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and coordinated the secretariat of the Small Advanced Economies Initiative. He has written and spoken extensively on science-policy and science-diplomacy and science-society interactions.


He has received the highest scientific and civilian honours in New Zealand and numerous international scientific awards. In 2016 he received the AAAS award in Science Diplomacy. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of London and the Royal Society of New Zealand, a member of the National Academy of Medicine (USA) and a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (UK).


About this Episode


Sir Peter Gluckman, former Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of New Zealand and Director of Koi Tū, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss the interaction between science, policymaking and diplomacy.


Sir Peter was Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of New Zealand from 2009 to 2018, serving three Prime Ministers: John Key, Bill English and Jacinda Ardern. He’s also the Director of Koi Tū — the Centre for Informed Futures — a New Zealand based think tank looking at some of the most pressing issues impacting our world.


In this episode we talk about the role of chief science advisors, how science and policymaking work together, and the interaction between science and diplomacy — a discussion that takes place within a backdrop of declining public trust, increasing misinformation and the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.



Episode Transcript

A transcript of the conversation between Alberto Lidji, host of The Do One Better! Podcast, and Sir Peter Gluckman.


Alberto Lidji

Sir Peter, welcome onto the show and why don't we start by having you tell us a little bit about your background and Koi Tu the think tank?


Sir Peter Gluckman

Well, perhaps a more relevant background funny enough are the other hats I wear. Firstly, I'm president elect of the International Science Council, which is the global organisation of science, which brings natural sciences and social sciences together and works very closely with the UN agencies over sustainability, over human development and is the principal connection between the science community and the UN multilateral system. And within that, I'm also Chair of the International Network for Government Science Advice, which is focused on the issues of how science can better inform policymaking. And of course, during COVID, we've seen suddenly the role of science and its relationship to policy making far more acutely in the public eye. Now, it's not always easy. Science is basically focused on what we know, what we think we know, what its implications are from a robust evidence basis. Policymaking, of course, is based on many other values based domains, diplomatic considerations, fiscal priorities, political agendas, ideologies, and so forth. And bringing those two together, even in COVID has not been smooth. One of the interesting things is has there been enough polarity of input into the discussion. For example the early days was all dominated by epidemiologists and virologists, quite properly, but now the issues are as much about social wellbeing, economic wellbeing, and many... and now geostrategic issues as well applying into the agenda. And so how science and policymaking works together is a particular focus of mine, and also the focus... the interaction between science and diplomacy. And wearing... in that role, I'm now chairing or leading on behalf of the International Science Council, this project of where we're looking at what are the likely scenarios ahead for the COVID pandemic, and what decisions made now by various actors, in particular state actors, might influence whether the pandemic takes a relatively short time, maybe one to two or three years to fully unfold, or whether it might take much longer. If you think about it, you've got issues around the virus and mutations, the vaccine and how effective it will be, how rich countries can afford vaccines, how poor countries may not, and the adequacy of supply, particularly to low income countries is low. We've already seen geopolitics into vaccine distribution. Then you've got the profound social effects that we've seen in many countries. In fact, in all countries, mental health affects, some of which will be long term and sustained, particularly for young people that had their schooling disrupted, particularly for people whose lives have been disrupted because the jobs they were doing, for example, in the airline business may have evaporated, and so forth. Then you have the economic implications, which are complex, and will evolve over time with the very change supply lines, business investment decisions, and so forth that are being made against a recession, which is quite broadly based in some countries. And then you have the geostrategic issues, and we're already seeing geostrategic issues. They played out from the early days of the pandemic, in the case of... between China and America, [...] and it still continues, and we've seen vaccine nationalism, vaccine politics playing out now. Now, so this working group I lead which is also in partnership with observers from the WHO, and United Nations disaster risk reduction is trying to explore what decisions different actors will make, will mean that... takes these... this group of uncertainties and makes it either prolonged or less prolonged. We're in for a long haul here and I think it's quite concerning that many people think that just because we now have the vaccine, it's all over. We've got a lot of consequences to deal with over a number of years. And at current vaccine rates, production rates, it will be several years before the whole world is vaccinated. And if the whole world is not vaccinated, then we will see problems continuing over travel, outbreak of people who choose not to be vaccinated, and so forth. The other thing that the pandemic has exploded is misinformation, and anti scientism. And we've seen this linkage between anti scientism, and political movements, and willful misinformation starting to emerge. And as President Elect of the International Science Council, I'm very worried about this trend. And we need to think about how we address the reality that science and the processes of science, both natural and social sciences, are the best way we have about understanding or getting a sense of understanding of the world around us and within us. So there's many challenges that COVID exposed. But I could take the same thing, remove the word COVID, and replace it with sustainability and climate change and you would see the same set of issues emerging. Tension between the science community and the political community, the role of special interests, and misinformation, the fact that we're dealing with very complex issues where the world needs to work hand in hand, rather than being dominated by selfish nationalism. So I think while I've focused here on COVID, because it's around at the moment, there's so many lessons from COVID, for dealing with the great exist... other existential challenges we face, which encapsulated within the sustainability agenda, and the human development agenda.


Alberto Lidji

Let me ask you on that point, about misinformation and declining public trust, how do you think we could start tackling this declining public trust and this misinformation that's out there? Because the average person is very time constrained, they're cluttered with information, they're not necessarily academically inclined. What's the deal, how can we tackle this issue?


Sir Peter Gluckman

Well, there are several dimensions to that question: at one level, I think this is at the heart of the revision that will have to occur to the education system. At the end of the day, education is no longer going to be about just providing facts, because facts, whether they're true or not, can be found on the internet by every child. The issue is critical thinking, assessing the information, understanding the sources of information, and having basic literacies beyond numeracy and reading, but into science literacy, civic literacy, and so forth. So there's a fundamental shift going to be needed in education to deal with the digital age. The second issue you raised was about trust. And societies rely on two forms of trust. They rely on trust vertically, between those in power, and those who are ruled. And we've seen in many countries that trust threatened or undermined by the behaviours of those in power, and that, unfortunately, flows from loss of trust in the elite to a powerful, the political elite, to loss in trust and other elites, such as scientists, and so forth. So there is a real issue of the behaviour of the political class in many countries. Fortunately, not in New Zealand, where we have good strong what I call vertical trust between people, and the people who rule them, irrespective of who's in power. And that flows through that we have a high level of trust in other components of the elite community, including science. But there's a second form of trust, which is equally important. And that's horizontal trust. Every society has diverse groups with diverse world views within it. They do not have to agree on everything, but they've got agree to collaborate to have a healthy society. And what we've seen is that horizontal trust, also broken by various actors using misinformation, using social media, using Twitter and ad hominem attacks. And we've changed the nature of the discourse, which is fracturing in many societies horizontal trust, and because horizontal and vertical trust are so intertwined. This leads to the other big existential threat we're seeing, I think across many Western societies, and many societies, which is the loss social cohesion. Because ultimately social cohesion is a reflection of vertical and horizontal trust within a society. And I think in countries like Europe and North America, and so forth, we're seeing that fracturing at a rate that I don't think anybody had predicted, and while it has many elements to why it's happened, including the behaviour of politicians, including the behaviour and the fracturing of the press, including, perhaps the role of external actors. Perhaps the biggest single factor has been the way social media has empowered misinformation, ad hominem attacks, etc, etc, and fractured both vertical and horizontal trust in society. And the challenge is we can't turn off the internet. So there's a fundamental change of how we learn to... how we recreate civil society, cohesive society, in a world that has got this digital framing to it. And this, in turn, undermines democracy. Because the principles of democracy, it should not be based on who screams loudest, or who has the biggest attack line on Twitter, it should be based on an informed electorate, making choices about both the short and long term. And I think that that has all got lost in the last few years. And I think that... Philip Kitcher, the philosopher talks about vulgar democracy. And I think we're actually in a phase... a period of vulgar democracy, where so much of the decision making in so many countries is dominated by factors other than thinking about our environment, our middle to long term future, the next generation, and indeed, the economic situations we all live in. So we've seen this explosion of gross inequality of wealth, concentration of power. There are many aspects to this, which all sound disconnected, but they're all part of this fundamental transformation, we're going through with a very rapid change in the nature of how societies operate. And I've written books with my colleague, Mark Hanson, actually, on the issue of what the fundamental changes that digital is making, to the shape of society, to our own selves, and our own psyches, and to the ability of the nation state to actually govern. So, there are some very profound things going on here, which are not easy to discuss, because actually, nobody actually has the solutions to what to do about it. But we should not be mindless of the problem. If we at least discuss the issues, we will start to find solutions. It's no different than the sustainability agenda. We are now... I mean, one of the things that COVID has brought about is the sense in many people that this is a time for a reset. This is a time to think fundamentally about the other existential challenges we face of climate change, biodiversity loss, food security, and so forth. And that is something which I think has got to be encouraged. That was one of the reasons we set up our think tank Koi Tu. Koi Tu is a Maori word for the tip of the spear, sharp tip of the spear moving forward. In other words, we want to be clear about the questions we need to understand about our middle to long term future. Policymaking has become very short term, very short news cycles, on the immediate next electoral cycle, not adequately thinking and most countries are ahead. There are exceptions, but in general, moving ahead to think 10, 20, 30, 40 years ahead, and we need to get better at thinking ahead. Otherwise, we face calamity.


Alberto Lidji

And how frustrating do you find it then when people are saying, 'well, climate change is it really happening?... or vaccines well, are they safe for me? Should I not take them?' What's your... how frustrating do you find the whole thing?


Sir Peter Gluckman

I'm not sure frustrating is the right word because I think it's a failure at many levels, it's a failure of the media, it's a failure of science communication, it's a failure of policy communication. It's a failure of the political system. It's a failure of the multilateral system. It's a reflection of nationalism in a way that could lead to tragedy of the commons. And therefore, I think it's not a matter of being frustrated. It's a matter of saying, what can organisations like the International Science Council, the International Network and Government Science Advice, the think tank I run in Auckland... what can we do to contribute to the change of the conversation? At the end of the day, we have nearly 8 billion people on the planet, it's their planet, it's not for scientists to tell them what to do. It's for scientists to give them the knowledge so they can think and reflect and make the choices for themselves. The issue is will politicians listen to the people?


Alberto Lidji

And so what can you do? What's your suggestion in terms of rectifying the state of affairs?


Sir Peter Gluckman

I think there's a strong play for the multilateral system to look at itself. If you think the current multilateral system was a child of the Second World War, where we saw the development of the UN system, the Bretton Woods system, IMF, World Bank, where we saw the start of decolonization, we saw the women's equity start to emerge and have greater focus on human rights. And all that happened after the inflection point of the Second World War. The issue is whether the the COVID crisis is sufficiently impactful on the way the global policy community thinks for there to be an inflection point here. And that I don't know the answer to but there's certainly a lot of people which hoped that it would.


Alberto Lidji

It all sounds very sobering and a little bit unsettling here...


Sir Peter Gluckman

Well, unsettling is important, because if people are thinking that we can just go back to business as usual, we will go back to business as usual. I happened to think the business as usual is not viable because there's been some fundamental shifts in the way the world works and operates as a result of COVID. And I think that rather than being negative, we should take the opportunity that COVID creates, for more fundamental conversations in every society, about the other existential threats we face; climate change, loss of social cohesion, the rapidly rising rate to mental health morbidity across the world, the potential for technological disruption, and of course, the ongoing issues of geostrategic conflict, which have not gone away. They've just changed this shape, and different ways. And I think that we've got to think and take the lessons from COVID and think about how they apply to other existential threats. For many of my age, this is by far the biggest existential threat we've ever confronted, you know, people who... we didn't live through the Second World War, we didn't go... I didn't... we weren't involved in conflict. And this is a fundamentally very different kind of episode to anything that most people alive today have previously faced. Not counting those poor people who are caught up in conflict zones in refugee camps and so forth, who are facing existential threat in a very different context. And again, something that the world has not managed to address.


Alberto Lidji

What are some of the diplomatic challenges we're looking at?... if we sticking with the current challenge that's on everybody's headlines right now with COVID-19... what are the diplomatic challenges around COVID-19?


Sir Peter Gluckman

Well, they largely relate in the short term to vaccines, they largely relate to making sure the vaccines get to the places where they're most needed. They relate also to issues like vaccine, passports or whatever, however, we're going to promote freedom of movement in a safe way. They relate to preparing for the next pandemic, because there will be another one. And there needs to be lessons learned from what did not work well in the early stages of this pandemic. There's a whole lot of issues. For example, there's quite a lot of discussion about the need, probably for some form of new treaty or framework convention to strengthen notification around potential infectious diseases. Just look at the International health regulations, international health law, to strengthen the ability... the country's responsibilities for notification and sharing of information. There's quite a lot to do in the diplomatic space. That's the directly related to COVID or flows directly out of COVID. You know, if you look more broadly, you know, we talk about 2015 as the year in which we had the the famous Paris agreement on climate change. The other big agreement of that year was the Sendai framework agreement on disaster risk reduction. And disaster risk reduction is about countries agreeing to work together to reduce the risk of various threats, of many, many kinds from natural disaster threats through to technology threat to pandemics. And the sad reality is not many countries, were well prepared for this pandemic. The countries that did best and we're well prepared were those that had had experience with SARS, like some of the East Asian countries, the other countries that did well, like New Zealand, and countries that had the advantage of a moat, and had governments that responded very quickly to the advice that the best thing to do was to keep the virus out, rather than to cope with the virus after the got into your population. And so they're the countries that have done well. And they're not always first world countries. If you look at countries like some of the Pacific island states, look at Cambodia, Vietnam, the... Rwanda, these countries have done very well, by recognising that evidence can be used to make acute decisions. Unfortunately, many countries did not have an science advisory mechanism. And I'm worried that not many countries are picking up and realising that they had to create ad hoc mechanisms during COVID. Should they think about whether they now need institutionalised mechanisms to deal with the many other issues where science can help governments make better policy, be it around social development, human development, environmental protection, and in the economic space around innovation. There's so many ways in which governments could use science better. And one of the particular ways they can use science better is in diplomacy, because many of these issues are now transnational. And so that's an area in which there's a lot of discussion underway.


Alberto Lidji

On the international arena, from a scientist's perspective, what is the optimal way to distribute vaccines?


Sir Peter Gluckman

Well, I mean, from a scientific point of view, you want to get it to the people most at risk. And obviously, one needs to have adequate production, because everybody -- myself included, and I haven't been vaccinated yet -- wants the vaccine tomorrow, so there is a there is both... what I'm worried about is the fearce vaccine nationalism that's emerging, that's restricting exports of vaccines, or demanding that the country uses this vaccine, not that vaccine. And I think, you know, obviously, supplies have to build up, it's going to take a while to build up supplies. And in doing that, we could end up in a situation where the first world or the developed world in many cases is well vaccinated, although I'll come back to that in a moment, with the developing world, where the need is great, has little access to vaccines, but I have to say that I am surprised at the level of resistance in some countries to vaccination. And of course, if the level of resistance stays high, then the advantages of vaccines at a national level, not at an individual level, will be lost because of herd immunity is not obtained, then healthcare system will continue to be overburdened with people with significant illness. And you know, at the moment, while medical care has done well to reduce some of the morbidity of COVID. The sad reality is there are still many, many people dying of the disease, many others surviving but with long term consequences, and many others having a rocky road so we shouldn't... there have been people trying to downplay the virus, we must, we've got to find the ways to actually get sufficient vaccine out there as quickly as possible to allow societies, economies to move back towards some sense of normality. And I think one of the things I'm observing with alarm is the premature relaxing of the only tools we have, masking and social distancing and related decisions, in countries that still have relatively low levels of vaccination, and with a with higher prevalence of COVID in their societies, and they're going to see the third, the fourth, the fifth wave, if they don't realise that there are countries that have had significant outbreaks, but by not being premature about removing those social distancing, masking, and other related requirements, they'd managed to do it. Australia -- the state of Victoria managed very well. Iceland managed well, Vietnam managed well, there have been countries that have had outbreaks. But by not being premature in relaxing, they've managed to get under control. And I think that there's not enough recognition that the sooner we get this thing under control properly, the sooner the world's economy, the world society can move back towards some sense of normality. There's short termism coming into it all the time.


Alberto Lidji

Now, maybe there's a little bit of tension between two fields, and I'll put it to you, from a science perspective, get everybody vaccinated, from an ethical perspective, some people don't want to be vaccinated. And that's, you know, that's their prerogative. Some of the questions coming in, particularly in the UK, are around, for instance, do we make it obligatory for all healthcare workers to be vaccinated? Do we require travel passports that state whether you've been vaccinated or otherwise? And what are the implications on on that front?


Sir Peter Gluckman

Well, I think these are deep ethical issues. And in fact, on the ISC project, we have ethisists involved, because these are not issues for scientists alone to answer, they are values based decisions, quite clearly, from a scientific point of view, the closer to 100% of vaccination we reach the healthier the population will be, and so the healthier the economy, and healthier the society. But I fully recognise that these are... that there are value judgments that every individual makes, and it is difficult to balance that out. However, I think it is worth finding out what the value... what the objections are based upon. In some cases, it's based on misinformation. On some cases, it's based on a philosophical basis. On other cases, it's based just on... I like to wait and see how other people get on and is it safe? And and I mean, I think we now have a large volume of people that have been vaccinated in countries where it's been very well documented. Israel would be an example of a country where the amount of information about the vaccine safety is phenomenal. And I think that there have been a lot of misstatements, there are a lot of people living off anecdote rather than of fact. And I think, again, the media has a lot to help here with social media, the traditional media, government in places where government is trusted... at least, the scientific community in general, to make sure that that information is accessible. I mean, you can't expect that people are going to get on the web and look up a whole lot of technical papers. And ther's 30,000 papers about COVID out there, now, probably more, and how many of them, you know... and they're very technical, many of them. I think, the science communication, business, and most scientists in one way or another, are involved in the business of science communication, needs to get far better... working with ethisists, working with social scientists, working with communication scholars, on making sure that reputable information is accessible to every person on the planet, particularly on this issue of side effects and safety of the vaccines and how efficacious they are. And it's hard stuff to read. It does need to be turned into language that people can understand. And, you know, anybody reads a scientific paper on vaccines or viruses or immunology, we'll see that it's a world full of jargon... very dense jargon.


Alberto Lidji

And you occasionally... or not even so seldom, hear a lot of consequential policymakers making statements about vaccines that aren't necessarily aligned with what you would think of as hard science.


Sir Peter Gluckman

Oh, yes. And I mean, that's where the issue of how evidence and policy come together, evidence and politics come together, is very different in countries like New Zealand, or the United Kingdom, or Canada, or now under the Biden administration in the US, against countries that don't have that strong tradition of respect for the knowledge and link... and where the policy community understands that knowledge has a lot... helps them make better decisions for their citizens.


Alberto Lidji

Is a challenging as a scientific advisor, whether that's you or...


Sir Peter Gluckman

Very challenging because, first of all, no decision a government makes is free from considerations that are non scientific. Obviously, every policy decision... what is policy? At the end of the day, policy is a matter of a government making a choice, it always has a choice to do nothing. So there's always one choice on the table status quo, or to do something. And the differences between those choices are that they affect different stakeholders in different ways, with different spillover consequences. What evidence can do is explain what the consequences of each option are. But the choice of options is not just based on evidence, it's based on which stakeholders are affected. What are the political objectives of the party in power? What are the financial implications? What are the public opinion, what are the... what are some of the other considerations, reputational issues that may occur. And so as a science advisor, one, I felt strongly... my role was to be a broker, I was the translator. I don't know, every field of science, I can't possibly know every field of science, but I can be the translator, from the world of science to the world of policy and politics, and the world of policy and politics, that the science community, and often... so often it mattered that there was a clear understanding of what the science was actually saying. Sometimes it was unclear, and I had to be a... dissect that out. Equally, scientists often will want to advocate for a particular position. But as a science advisor, what you're trying to do is not advocate, but make sure that the government of the day has the knowledge on which to base their decision making once they put on the values domains. So it's interesting... is it frustrating? No, it's you just got to go in understanding that there will always be other considerations other than the science consideration. And you cannot be a good science advisor unless you understand the policy process. Now, you also have to stay, fiercely nonpartisan, and I insisted that I had to be non partisan, which meant that I also told the leader of the opposition, as well as to the Prime Minister, because I believed it was important that that the Leader of the Opposition accepted, I was doing the best by providing the executive government with scientific information to support their decisions, but was not trying to make it into policy informed evidence, but evidence informed policy. One of the things worried me a little bit in the pandemic, is how often we've heard from so many politicians, were just following the science, or the science advice, when clearly there's been a political overlay on it. And I think they should be more honest and say, the science told us to do this... we accept that, but for the following reasons, we also are altering the slightly different direction.


Alberto Lidji

Now, that's not just you, right? I mean, there are science advisors to heads of government and heads of state, throughout the planet. And you chair, the international network that...


Sir Peter Gluckman

Not that many, funnily enough. It's largely in the Anglophone world, in the non Anglophone world, there are many other ways it's achieved, through academies, through committees, and so forth. But the Anglophone world has got a particular model, which I think allows for the Prime Minister, the President to have a direct conversation with a science advisor, or a minister, they have a direct conversation with a science advisor, in a way that's not possible through a committee process. They don't want to expose their ignorance in public either. And sometimes you're having to deal with some fairly basic lack of understandings that have to be explained.


Alberto Lidji

Now you were Chief Science Adviser to the Prime Minister of New Zealand... a former Sir Peter Gluckman of ours, Sir David King. had a similar role here in the UK. Do you guys exchange notes, not just you two personally, but between science advisors in this network of advisors, government science advice that you're leading?


Sir Peter Gluckman

Yes, there is a lot of exchange and formal networking. Sometimes it's quite formal. But in general, there is a lot of collegiality. Also we're dealing with similar problems. Sometimes we even peer review each other's work if it's appropriate. Sometimes we work together on things. But there's an awful lot of phone calls, zoom calls, telephone calls. N people at this interface, you may be silent advisors, Academy heads, there's 5,000 people in over 100 countries in the International Network for Government Science Advice. Some of them are quite Junior, but some of them are the very senior people whose names you would recognise. Policymakers also have limited bandwidth, they can't deal with too many issues at once. And they will lurch to problems when an externality like something in the media drives them to do something, you've got to be ready... I wouldn't say to pounce, but you've got to be ready, when the opportunity comes, to put the issues on the table. At the same time, there's a different kind of policymaking... the kind of more deliberative policy that might come out of a ministry. And what you're doing there is working with that ministry, so they have access to the information they need. Because often Wikipedia, or Google is not an adequate source of information for the kind of matters we're dealing with. Now, that's particularly so for the matters around sustainability, climate change, all the... once you get down to the nitty gritty of emissions trading, or thinking about forest and carbon capture or storage, or the role of forestry or changes in energy systems, they're very technical issues that need to be worked through. And you need to make sure that agencies, heads of government, ministries have the right expertise available for what it is that they're doing. It's certainly not going to be me, it's going to be making sure that the right people are in the room. And so the British model, which is also the New Zealand model, is to have science advisors distributed through all the ministers of government.


Alberto Lidji

Now, what I'm hearing here, if I understand correctly, is that as a chief science advisor to a government to Prime Minister, it's a good thing to have a sharp political instinct, even if you maintain yourself in a non partisan manner.


Sir Peter Gluckman

If you're a form of diplomat, the way I see it is your bit like the translator. But you know who is in a diplomatic meeting between two countries that don't speak the same language. You need to understand the culture of both parties, you need to understand the hidden meanings and their words, you need to have a diplomatic nose in the right sense to keep the discussion on track. And I think that's what science advising really is. It's a diplomatic skill of a person who understands the culture of science, and has access to the science community, and is respected by the scientific community, but at the same time, knows enough and has act and is respected within the policy community, and understands a very different culture, not just the policy community, but the political dynamic that can play which will vary depending on the nature of the constitution and different countries.


Alberto Lidji

Before we wrap up, and we've covered so much ground here, do you have a key takeaway for our audience, and that can be anything at all, whether it's a philosophical observation, a vantage point that you'd like to share as a as a Chief Scientific adviser?


Sir Peter Gluckman

My key takeaway would actually be, we need more honest conversation. Our conversation in the last decade has been dominated by Twitter, by very polarised media, by short term... 30-second slot on TV by politicians and very antagonistic discussion. There's been few fora that the public sees that allow for the kind of conversation the public needs to be part of. And I think if we could see a way with using podcasts and other methodologies to promote engagement on these matters that all parts of the community can engage with, and think about in a respectful way. We don't all have to agree with each other. We never will all agree with each other. But we need to be able to talk to each other, to find a conceptual way to address problems that are real. And I think we lost that ability, in many ways, to talk to each other, we’re very good at talking past each other.


Alberto Lidji

And on that note, I thank you very much for your time and your insight.