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S4S — Result In Brief

Project ID: 629677
Funded under: FP7-PEOPLE
Country: Spain
Domain: Society, Environment

Engagement with dryland problems

An EU team compared the effectiveness of conventional science dissemination with engagement-based programmes. The team reviewed the desertification state of the art, established a network of experts and created an online wiki resource.
Engagement with dryland problems
Drylands represent 40 % of the Earth’s land area and 30 % of the human population, which mainly includes the poor and marginalised. Such regions are especially vulnerable to climatic and social changes, yet the tools to avert such outcomes already exist.

The EU-funded S4S (Science for society solutions (S4S): Bringing translational science for drylands Earth and environmental sciences into the mainstream) project investigated ways to facilitate the impact of Earth and environmental sciences research. The concept involved improving stakeholder engagement.

Research entailed identifying and communicating the reasons conventional approaches to science dissemination have limited impact.

In contrast, the team investigated reasons for why engagement-based programmes are effective. As such, investigators conducted a review of the state of the art. This revealed that stakeholder engagement leads to relevance, involvement and decisions, whereas non-engagement approaches usually fail. The review was expanded to identify concepts and tools behind successful translation science.

As a result, the team located experts in participatory research and stakeholder engagement wishing to help make science more relevant to society. These experts were engaged to create an online wiki resource: ‘tools for participatory science’. A series of workshops, training sessions and dissemination events supported creation and development of the wiki plus helped build a network of scientists and practitioners. The network contributed to the wiki and to a customer value proposition assessment process in support of a business planning exercise.

Project events helped reach over 300 participatory researchers and almost 900 environmental scientists. Hence, S4S raised the visibility of stakeholder-engagement processes within the field. The team demonstrated to SMEs how the same methods are fundamental to start-up acceleration, while also influencing United Nations (UN) global policy development. Such interactions also resulted in further content for the wiki and peer-reviewed publications.

The significant demand for more effective dissemination methods led to discussion about a spin-off project.

S4S's recommendations may help scientists connect with the people affected by desertification, thereby more effectively combating the changes.

Related information


Life Sciences


Dryland, science dissemination, desertification, Earth, S4S, environmental sciences
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