Experts from the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) are joining leading scientists from across Europe to provide practical and effective solutions for addressing the global biodiversity crisis.

The new four-year project, BIONEXT, funded by the EU’s research and innovation programme Horizon Europe and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), will produce new evidence to demonstrate how biodiversity underpins every aspect of life, including the water we drink, the food we eat, and our health.

It will also make recommendations on how governments, businesses, groups and other organisations can support nature and reverse biodiversity loss as a part of decision-making. 

Professor Paula Harrison of UKCEH, who is leading one of the project research teams, says: “Biodiversity must be at the heart of everyday choices and policymaking to protect nature and the vital benefits it gives us. BIONEXT will identify sustainable action to achieve this.”

Professor Harrison’s team will investigate how factors affecting biodiversity across different human activities are linked, examining the nexus among them. It will evaluate the large volume of existing, but fragmented evidence on links between biodiversity, water, food, energy, transport, health and climate change.

The scientists will then work with governments, businesses, NGOs, researchers, community organisations, activists and minority groups to create visions that would benefit both nature and people in the future and explore pathways of actions and strategies that are needed across multiple sectors to achieve them.

Professor Harrison explains: “Our pathways will show how different organisations and sectors need to work together to achieve sustainable futures where people live in harmony with nature. By taking a nexus approach to the design of policies and management practices to protect biodiversity, co-benefits across multiple sectors can be realised and trade-offs or unintended consequences minimised or balanced.”

The project will also compile examples of existing practices by organisations that have transformed how societies relate to nature, and analyse the factors that underpinned their success. This information will be used to produce a BIONEXT Pathways app that will give organisations and groups guidance on implementing policies in their own areas. 

The project aims to contribute new knowledge and science-based solutions on sustainable futures to the Intergovernmental science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), EU policymakers and other decision-makers. Prof Harrison is co-chair of the IPBES Nexus Assessment.

BIONEXT, which has been awarded funding of 4.1 million euros from the Horizon Europe research and innovation programme and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), is coordinated by the Finnish Environment Institute (syke), with 10 partners from eight European countries. For more information, see the BIONEXT website.