Science supporting policy
Biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation pose an increasing threat for food production, human wellbeing and resilience of our societies. We know this because science has shown us the trends, the cascading impacts and the causal chains. Science has also produced the basis and concrete means for policy to halt biodiversity loss and make ecosystems more sustainable. This cooperation between science and policy has resulted in protected area network implementation, urban green infrastructure plans, forest management guidelines and agri-environmental policies–even nature therapy prescriptions. In this sense, there is a functioning connection between science and policy. This interface has successfully built science-policy mechanisms, such as Eklipse, networks of actors and platforms, such as Alternet, and a shared knowledge base, e.g., through the summer school program of Alternet and its conferences.
At the same time, the science-policy interface is challenged by the increased policy emphasis on climate change mitigation, resilience and adaptation. Even more acutely, the ongoing pandemic is capturing much of the policy attention. Challenges come also from local conservation and restoration efforts not scaling up to meaningful governance changes that would transform systems and attitudes, and the continuing ecosystem degradation caused by resource extraction and land-use change. Indeed, well-functioning science-policy interfaces need to be dynamic and adaptive to fit the existing socio-political dynamic.
Science-policy needs to adapt
There is an increasing need to further develop science-policy interfaces. Key questions include:
- How can we improve the effectiveness of science-policy interfaces to tackle both direct and indirect threats to biodiversity?
- How could science-policy interfaces also speak to the systemic mechanisms underlying biodiversity degradation?
- How can science-policy interfaces unlock barriers to integrating the governance of preservation, sustainable use and restoration of ecosystems?
In order to tackle these challenges, new science-policy mechanisms need to integrate more sectors and actors and learn the lessons provided by the science-policy interfaces of other scientific disciplines and policy domains.