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Consolidating the European Research Area on biodiversity and ecosystem services

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - BiodivERsA3 (Consolidating the European Research Area on biodiversity and ecosystem services)

Reporting period: 2016-08-01 to 2018-01-31

BiodivERsA is the network of organisations programming and funding research on biodiversity, ecosystem services (ESS) and Nature-based Solutions (NbS) across European countries and territories.

Biodiversity is the Earth’s living heritage and is essential for the delivery of ESS. Biodiversity loss is a major societal challenge, which is calling for scientific support to policy and management decisions and for a coordinated strategy. It is as much an environmental issue as an economic, food-security, energy-security and political one & it can be a toolbox for the resilience of human societies in face of a changing world.

Funded by the Horizon 2020 programme, BiodivERsA gathers 36 partners from 23 countries and aims at strengthening the cooperation between research funding agencies and with the EC, achieving resource efficiency and synergy, developing a coherent vision for research planning and providing stakeholders with adequate knowledge and tools to explore innovative solutions for the conservation, sustainable management and use of biodiversity & ESS.

Building on the two first phases of BiodivERsA, BiodivERsA3 will achieve its ambition by:
•Developing a strategic, multi-annual vision
•Enlarging the consortium to enhance its capacity to support research on biodiversity & ESS across Europe, including in ORs&OCTs & at the international scale
•Implementing joint calls to better integrate research across Europe
•Developing other joint activities, e.g. alignment of national research programs, promotion of mobility and equal opportunities for researchers & data sharing
•Promoting effective science-policy & science-society dialogue during the whole research process
Set up of a new governance, with an Advisory Board, with both scientists and stakeholders, contributing to major activities of the network & a Coordination team (with a Coordinator & 2 Vice Chairs), reinforcing the collective approach within BiodivERsA

Regular enlargement of the network:
-2015:10 new partners, incl. 6 from ORs&OCTs
-2016-17:5 new partners

Implementation of specific activities to better integrate new members:
-1 workshop on the BiodivERsA joint calls procedures
-2 Staff exchanges, incl. one on how to improve the participation and success of territories that are less successful in transnational calls

Mapping & foresight activities to identify gaps and priorities for European research on biodiversity&ESS:
-1 workshop to identify specific research gaps and needs in the overseas
-Update of the BiodivERsA database (11,500 research projects referenced) and analysis of funding trends for research on biodiversity&ESS
-Mapping of European and national research infrastructures for biodiversity&ESS
-Foresight activities with the framing of the NbS concept & typology and participation to Sutherland’s 2018 Horizon Scan: one topic suggested selected as one of the 15 most important emerging issues for Global conservation and biological diversity

Development of the BiodivERsA Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA), 2017-20, considering the feedbacks from >50 major stakeholders.
Development of an Implementation plan (2017-19), detailing the research priorities to be addressed in future joint calls.

A new programme for supporting syntheses and meta-analyses (research based on the (re)use of existing data), via a collaboration with key European synthesis centres. This will be tested in the 2018 Call on “Biodiversity&health”, which will support synthesis research projects.

Implementation of the BiodivERsA 2015-16 COFUND call: 26 projects selected for funding for a total amount of 34M€ in cash (51M€ of total costs)

Engagement with key initiatives, incl. JPIs, EKLIPSE, IPBES, OPPLA, ThinkNature & the Belmont Forum
-1 action with the Belmont Forum in relation to IPBES leading to the BiodivScen COFUND to support research on scenarios of biodiversity (21 transnational research projects for 28 M€ in cash)
-1 mapping exercise with ALCUE-Net to analyse the existing collaborations between the ERA and Latin America/Caribbean (publication of a brochure & a paper)
-Preparation of a proposition for a COFUND with the WATER-JPI

Several science-society & science-policy interfacing activities:
-1 clustering workshop with BiodivERsA funded projects’ researchers, policy makers and stakeholders to develop policy briefs addressing current policy needs based on funded projects’ results
-3 new policy briefs: on the Common Agricultural Policy; on invasive alien species and on measures to increase ecosystem resilience and avoid tipping points
-1 Research & innovation workshop to strengthen links between BiodivERsA funded projects and the private sector & promote the uptake of research results by the private sector
-1 guide on policy relevance and effective science-policy interfacing in research proposals (publication in 2018) to help scientists better engage policy stakeholders in their research projects
-Status of observer at the IPBES and participation in the 4th IPBES plenary
-Production of syntheses of research results from BiodivERsA-funded projects to support the technical support units (TSU) of the IPBES assessment for Europe and Central Asia (ECA): an approach acknowledged by the TSU & cited as a best practice at the PESC-3 meeting

> Overall achievements summarized in the brochure BiodivERsA main achievements for research on biodiversity, ESS&NbS over 2008-2018.
REINFORCED GOVERNANCE, ENLARGEMENT & INTERNATIONALISATION:
-Upgraded governance in line with the renewed ambition of the network
-A reinforced geographical coverage and capacity to build the ERA on biodiversity, ESS&NbS
-Internationalisation of future calls to promote the links and complementarities of research between the European and international levels

DEFINITION OF A COMMON AND FORWARD-LOOKING VISION & shared priorities in the field of biodiversity, ESS&NbS with the SRIA and Implementation plan. This will contribute to overcome the research field fragmentation, feed national and regional organisations’ strategies in Europe & improve the ERA.

PROMOTION OF EXCELLENT, TRANS-NATIONAL & MULTIDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH
-A recurrent and significant funding source:
*Overall, in-cash leverage effect of 7.2 for the EC and of 5.2 for BiodivERsA partners
*Medium-sized, interdisciplinary projects (ca. 5 to 7 partners from 3 to 5 countries for 1M€)
*Excellent projects addressing questions at a trans-boundary level and gathering expertise of scientists from different countries, allowing the constitution of high-quality & efficient research consortia
*Efficient mobilization of non-natural sciences

PROMOTION OF STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT & THE USE OF NEW KNOWLEDGE TO TACKLE SOCIETAL CHALLENGES
*Projects evaluated against specific criteria of societal/policy relevance and stakeholder engagement
*Stakeholder engagement handbook used beyond Europe & the sole biodiversity community, downloaded >10,000 times in 2017
*Significant results for application by society (2008 funded projects’ outputs brochure): lack of trade-off between scientific excellence and the level of production of society/policy-relevant outputs and of stakeholder engagement
*Policy briefs, promoting the impact of funded projects on decision making
*Relevant outputs of funded projects considered in the IPBES ECA assessment

SUCCESSFUL COLLABORATION WITH KEY EUROPEAN & INTERNATIONAL INITIATIVES in a perspective of shared interest, as biodiversity is at the cross-road of many sectors
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