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SPIRAL "UK National Ecosystem Assessment" paper publshed


A new paper has been published based on work carried for SPIRAL, authored by Kerry Waylen and Juliette Young. This paper focuses on the first phase of the UK National Ecosystem Assessment.


Kerry and Juliette explored what role this high profile assessment played in promoting knowledge use between science and policy. They show that the NEA did help to support science-policy links on ecosystem services topics, and this largely arose from opportunities to communicate and interact.

SPIRAL has ended


The SPIRAL project ended at the end of 2013. This News category will no longer be updated. The site however will still be accessible for a number of years.  The Project's outputs and conclusions can be found in the Documents section.


SPIRAL paper published: Balancing credibility, relevance and legitimacy: A critical assessment of trade-offs in science–policy interfaces


The SPIRAL paper "Balancing credibility, relevance and legitimacy: A critical assessment of trade-offs in science–policy interfaces" has been published in "Science and Public Policy Advance Access" of August 2013.


To foster strong connections between knowledge and policy action, science–policy interfaces, and the information they produce and exchange, need to be credible, relevant and legitimate. Though this is widely accepted, there has been less emphasis on the problem of trade-offs between these attributes, and how the trade-offs manifest themselves in practice.

Clear recognition of uncertainty is lacking in scientific advice for policymakers


Sustainable management of complex ecosystems requires clear understanding of uncertainty. However, scientific guidance documents show a lack of clarity and coherence regarding uncertainties and tend to focus solely on the need for more data or monitoring, new research indicates. The researchers suggest that scientific guidance should recognise uncertainty as an inherent part of any complex ecosystem.


Ecosystem-based management is now advocated as an effective method for achieving sustainability. However, this holistic approach encompasses a vast array of different socio-economic and ecological factors, their interactions and the associated uncertainties.

SPIRAL Paper Published in GAIA


Against the background of a continuing biodiversity loss there is a strong need to improve the interfaces between science and policy. Many approaches for such interfaces exist, the most recent being the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). A less prominent approach to interface science with policy consists of research projects directly linking with decision makers.The SPIRAL paper "Improving the Science-Policy Interface of Biodiver sity Research Projects" in GAIA present insights and recommendations on how to do this successfully, highlighting among others the role of facilitating mutual learning and enhancing interface expertise in institutions.

Authors: Carsten Neßhöver, Johannes Timaeus, Heidi Wittmer, Annamaria Krieg, Nicoleta Geamana, Sybille van den Hove, Juliette Young, Allan Watt

Read the paper online


MSC course Global Change at Dublin University


Global change is occurring in complex socio-ecological systems. Understanding the intricate, medium- to long-term changes in our land, air and water requires advanced knowledge in measurement, modelling and prediction. Responding to these changes requires effective communication of the science in order to underpin innovative policies.

This Joint International MSc at Dublin University course aims to respond to these challenges and targets to suit skilled motivated science graduates wishing to develop a scientific career in ecosystem research as well as those aiming to contribute to evidence-based environmental policy.


 This Masters Degree programme will train graduates in scientific methods to prepare policy-relevant information.

ALTER-Net conference Recommendations Available


From Monday 15th to Thursday 18th April, over 200 scientists from 66 European research institutes and more than 25 countries, together with European policy makers, have been developing scientifically sound, evidence-based recommendations on how to implement and realize the 2020 European Biodiversity Strategy. This conference was organized by the European biodiversity research network ALTER-Net, together with the European Commission.


From over 50 recommendations, 6 final and principal ones were distilled – one for each European target. They were deemed by conference participants to be the most urgent and important requirements to enable Europe to meet its biodiversity targets for 2020 and beyond.

Call for inputs IPBES stakeholder engagement strategy


In order to inform the development of the first draft of the IPBES strategy, organisations active in the field of biodiversity and ecosystem services are invited to participate in a survey to gather their views on stakeholder engagement in IPBES. Following an open government and stakeholder review of this draft, the strategy will be updated and presented to the next session of the IPBES Plenary (IPBES-2) for consideration.


The short survey is available online at the SurveyMonkey website: English version | French version | Spanish version

Horizon Management on SPIRAL


Horizon Management News has a short article about SPIRAL in its March issue. Read it here.

President Barroso announces creation of a Science and Technology Advisory Council


José Manuel BarrosoMarch 13th 2013 -- The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, has announced today the creation of a Science and Technology Advisory Council. This informal advisory body held its first meeting today in Brussels. 

President Barroso said: "Science and innovation are key drivers for European competitiveness, economic growth and the creation of new jobs. This Advisory Council will focus on science and technology related topics that are of cross-cutting nature, with a clear societal dimension. It will identify the issues of value where science, research and innovation can contribute to support future development in Europe".

The creation of the Advisory Council follows the President’s appointment of Professor Anne Glover as the European Commission’s first Chief Scientific Adviser in January 2012, aiming at ensuring more evidence-based European Union policy-making, but also at promoting the uptake of science & technology in society, including a better transfer of knowledge from the scientific world to industry.<