How did we get here?

A story of a Science Policy Interface mechanism for biodiversity and ecosystem services in Europe...

A long and winding road has led to the project EKLIPSE and to the mechanism it is aiming to build. 

The starting point was the key question around the intersection between scientific knowledge and policy action and decision that led to the concept of Science Policy Interface (van den Hove 2007, Spierenburg 2012). However, we will not dwell into theoretical debate, but would like to look back and recall the main stages ofour journey to EKLIPSE...

Early research strategy needs: The first milestone was the creation of the European Platform for Biodiversity Research Strategy (EPBRS) in 1999, an open informal forum between policy makers and scientists in the field of biodiversity. The goal was to jointly explore the main research priorities and challenges for making science more relevant for environmental policies. EPBRS gathered enthusiastic individuals and stimulated thinking around biodiversity science and policy for more than 15 years. It has played the role of a think tank through numerous events and activities to promote brainstorming and debates. In our story, a key EPBRS event is the 2009 "Workshop on a Network of Knowledge on Biodiversity: a contribution from Europe", that initiated the idea of a network of networks mobilising knowledge holders on biodiversity to answer policy needs. EPBRS was supported by early EU coordination actions, namely BIOPLATFORM (2001-2005) and BioSTRAT (2007-2009). 

A foundation via EU projects: From this fertile ground, two major FP7 funded projects related to SPIs emerged in 2010:1- the SPIRAL project that advanced our understanding of SPIs and generated best practices on how to implement effective SPIs; and 2- the KNEU project that explored how a network of networks on biodiversity could be set up and what would be its functions and processes to answer to policy needs. In parallel, many other EU-funded projects and networks such as ALTER-Net or BiodivERsA have promoted science-policy activities.

Recent policy needs for better informed decision making: Another important 'push' came from the Seventh General Union Environment Action Programme ('7th EAP') that identified, as its Priority Objective 5, the aim of improving the knowledge and evidence base for Union environment policy. An important element was to further strengthen and improve the science-policy interface and citizen engagement, and to intensify cooperation at international, Union and Member State level. As a consequence, EC-DG ENV supported a service contract to explore options for the design of a science-policy mechanism at the EU-level "Towards an EU mechanism interfacing science and policy on biodiversity and ecosystem services".

As with all good recipes, once all ingredients have been put into the bowl, you need to stir well, transfer the dough to a good pan and bake the cake at the right temperature for a good amount of time...Well, most of the ingredients have been produced by the different projects and initiatives, and now EKLIPSE hopes to provide the binding agent and has 4 years to make the cake ...

Van den Hove S (2007) A rationale for Science Policy interfaces. Futures 39: 807-826
Spierenburg, M (2012) Getting the message across: biodiversity science and policy interfaces, GAIA Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society, 21(2): 125-134