Experts from the Centre of Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) are playing a key role in a major EU-funded project to provide policy makers with the information needed to make decisions on conserving biodiversity and ecosystem services and solve environmental problems across Europe.
CEH scientists are coordinating the EKLIPSE project which consists of a consortium of international scientists who invite policy-makers to put in requests that answer their information needs.
The European Commission-funded project works by sending out 'calls for expertise' to scientists and other knowledge holders who then share their knowledge to help inform Europe’s policy-makers on environmental challenges.
EKLIPSE has now reached a landmark in its four-year cycle by producing its first report, published by CEH. It outlines an impact evaluation framework to assess how nature-based solutions can best address ten key environmental challenges, including:
- Climate mitigation and adaptation
- Water management
- Air quality
- Coastal resilience
- Green space management, including enhancing/conserving urban biodiversity
- Urban regeneration and public health and wellbeing
Dr Allan Watt, Science Area Lead, Ecological Processes & Resilience at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, said EKLIPSE is a new way of gathering expert knowledge and facilitating discussion that may lead to better protection of nature in Europe.
Dr Watt said, "Effective policies do not readily emerge from scientists operating in isolation from policy makers. EKLIPSE is unique in facilitating the engagement of scientists, other knowledge holders, policy makers and other societal actors such as conservation NGOs and urban citizens concerned about their environment."
The report includes the case of Barcelona, which has had a strong drive to improve the urban environment, including better air quality and resilience to climate change. Barcelona adopted nature-based solutions to these challenges with a street tree planting programme, allotment gardens and conversion of courtyards into green spaces. These measures form part of Barcelona’s "Green Infrastructure and Biodiversity Plan to 2020", one of an increasing number of nature-based solution projects being planned across Europe and beyond.
"EKLIPSE is unique in facilitating the engagement of scientists, other knowledge holders, policy makers and other societal actors such as conservation NGOs and urban citizens concerned about their environment." Dr Allan Watt, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Because of the increasing awareness of the potential of this type of project the European Commission asked EKLIPSE for advice on how to compare the effectiveness of their design and implementation. EKLIPSE set up an expert group and this report is the result of their work.
The EKLIPSE expert group that produced this report was led by Christopher Raymond, Carlo Calfapietra and Niki Frantzeskaki from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), the Italian Institute of Agro-Environmental & Forest Biology (IBAF) and Erasmus University Rotterdam, respectively.
Dr Juliette Young, a Social Scientist at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, said, "EKLIPSE is pioneering a new way of working at the science-policy interface: responding directly to policy-makers’ pressing knowledge needs, building on the wealth of existing scientific knowledge and engaging actively with the best scientists from across Europe. In doing so, EKLIPSE can ensure state-of-the-art responses to policy-makers, and build capacity for researchers and other knowledge holders."
"EKLIPSE is pioneering a new way of working at the science-policy interface..." Dr Juliette Young, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
The EKLIPSE project is now considering new requests for knowledge syntheses. These include a request from the French Ministry of Environment on how nature and natural space can have a positive influence on mental and physical health.
Access the first report from EKLIPSE: An impact evaluation framework to support planning and evaluation of nature-based solutions projects
More information on the project can be found by visiting the EKLIPSE website