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Establishing a European Knowledge and Learning Mechanism to Improve the Policy-Science-Society Interface on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

Periodic Reporting for period 5 - EKLIPSE (Establishing a European Knowledge and Learning Mechanism to Improve the Policy-Science-Society Interface on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services)

Reporting period: 2021-12-01 to 2022-09-30

A wealth of knowledge and scientific evidence already exists to address the biodiversity crisis and the gaps to better implement (EU) policies, however, converting this into actionable knowledge has remained a challenge. To tackle those challenges, at the European scale, the Science community and the EU have been determined to put in place key actors and processes at the interface to support the EU making better informed decisions and as well support the EU taking a leadership on transformative pathway. Eklipse has been developed with a clear role and niche in the Science-Policy interface landscape and is now recognized as a key knowledge brokering mechanism for EU policymakers ( https://data.europa.eu/doi/10.2777/425134) and other societal actors (see section Impacts in Eklipse website).
At the end of the project time, we can confidently conclude that the project has fulfilled all its original five objectives:
● Objective 1. To set up a light and transparent governance model for a self-sustainable support mechanism for evidence-based policy on biodiversity and ecosystem services in the EU
--> EKLIPSE project succeeded in developing and setting up an innovative, light, ethical and self-sustainable EU support mechanism for evidence-based and evidence-informed policy on biodiversity and ecosystem services with an advanced governance structure composed of six main governance bodies: Knowledge Coordination Body, Eklipse Management Body, Method Expert Working Group, Strategic Advisory Board, Alumni body and last but not least the ad-hoc Expert Working Group.
● Objective 2. To coordinate innovative and transparent approaches for science, policy and societal actors to jointly provide evidence leading to better-informed decision-making
--> During the project time, among the 55 requests submitted, 14 were selected and were addressed with outcomes (evidence), all publicly accessible (all reports can be found here Eklipse reports on www.eklipse.eu). In order to ensure Eklipse will be perceived credible and legitimate, Eklipse build all its activities on a strong Ethical Infrastructure. Eklipse’s outputs are a set of ethical, credible, transparent, timely and jointly developed evidence reports (and other targeted outputs), addressing specific topics in response to societal and policy needs
● Objective 3. To promote the effective engagement of all society, research and policy actors in multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary consultations to jointly identify research priorities and emerging issues related to biodiversity and ecosystem services
--> What makes Eklipse different is its robust process when answering the need for evidence in order to ensure knowledge synthesized will be perceived as credible, relevant and legitimate so that it can also be used in case of contested issues. ) Another key added value is that EKLIPSE has a dedicated Method Expert Group advising on the best knowledge synthesis method to answer requests. During the answering process, 2 sets of Open consultation and peer review processes are organised to check for quality and relevance of the outputs (Method Protocol and final evidence synthesis).
● Objective 4. To engage better with those networks whose knowledge has a key potential impact on biodiversity and ecosystem services
--> very strong emphasis during EKLIPSE project time was made on networking through building the NoN and organizing Capacity building events. Eklipse has successfully launched the European Network of Networks for SPI on biodiversity (ENoN). Eklipse succeeded to create a responsive and active network of experts and knowledge holders across Europe and beyond that get acknowledged for providing their knowledge.
● Objective 5. To encourage societal debate on and engagement with relevant policy and research on biodiversity and ecosystem services
Eklipse through some of its requests on societal engagement succeeded to improve citizens engagement in topical Science Policy Interface activities.
EKLIPSE was not just a one-stand EU project. It is the concretization of decades of ideas and vision on why and how to improve the Science Policy Interface (SPI) on biodiversity and ecosystem services in Europe.
The EKLIPSE project succeeded in developing and setting up an innovative, light, ethical and self-sustainable EU support mechanism for evidence-based and evidence-informed policy on biodiversity and ecosystem services. The mechanism resulting from this project was developed by building on existing science-policy-society interface approaches and further refined through iterative learning and formative evaluation throughout the project. The mechanism was designed to provide trustworthy evidence for policy and society upon request and make the knowledge community more responsive by providing a platform for mutual learning and engagement with policy and society. The mechanism was developed by a core team of project partners dedicated to facilitating the engagement of the wider communities of biodiversity knowledge holders and users in the EU. EU and member state institutions and networks were instrumental in the functioning of this project, its impacts and the resulting mechanism. Therefore, all relevant EU institutions, knowledge holders and stakeholders were actively encouraged and supported to get involved through their individual strengths and interests, ensuring targeted contributions from outside the expertise of the project team throughout the project.
The outcome of this project is an innovative, self-sustainable governance mechanism with a long-term perspective backed by a realistic business model to enhance effective and efficient interactions between science, society and policy related to biodiversity and ecosystem services in the EU. Emphasis was placed on keeping this mechanism and its governance light and flexible to ensure its ability to adapt to changing societal, research and policy contexts and needs and open to all relevant knowledge holders and users.
During the project time, among the 55 requests submitted to Eklipse, 14 were selected and were addressed with outcomes (evidence), all publicly accessible. These requests cover a wide array of topics, ranging from developing an evaluation framework for nature-based solutions to better understanding the impacts of green and blue spaces on mental health (all reports can be found here Eklipse reports on www.eklipse.eu).
This knowledge brokering mechanism, rebranded Eklipse, has been handed over to Alternet NGO and its 31 members (http://www.alterneteurope.eu) to be used by the wider community. Requesters can now submit their questions to Eklipse the whole year around and receive targeted responses based on the best available knowledge within 8-18 months, depending on the knowledge synthesis method(s) used. As self-sustainable mechanism, Eklipse has received two new requests financed for providing evidence from EC DG MARE and OFB. Eklipse has also been integrated in 2021 in six EC Horizon Europe projects as knowledge brokering mechanism and was successful with five of them (BioAgora, EmpowerUs, Eco-Ready, BeUseful and BioValue). Eklipse will receive for example 10-12 requests for knowledge syntheses over the 5 years of the BioAgora project to respond to current European Commission knowledge needs (www.bioagora.eu).