Intermediaries Important to Bridge Divide Between Science and Policy

New research by the London-based Overseas Development Institute (ODI) indicates the value of intermediary organisations, such as the BES, in bridging the divide between science and policy. Although the research focused on the interface between science and development policy, they can equally be applied to science to ecology/ environmental policy-making. The research has been published as part of the ODI’s RAPID programme (Research and Policy in Development).

More than 600 scientists, intermediaries and policy-makers responded to an electronic survey from the ODI, launched in summer 2007. The findings were combined with a literature review and case studies to generate the conclusions of the project.

The review and case-studies show that, in the developing world particularly, close personal relationships between scientists and policy-makers are extremely important.

Two-thirds of the stakeholders surveyed by the ODI stated that a lack of understanding by policy-makers was a major obstacle to getting scientific information into policy. Poor dissemination of research findings was also identified as a hindrance. Policy-makers found opportunities to exchange opinions with scientists, and other forms of personal interaction, the most valuable means to increase their engagement with the science community.

The BES plays an important role in building the relationships between scientists and policy-makers highlighted as so important by this research. Our Ministerial Shadowing Scheme allows early-career ecologists to spend several days shadowing a Minister or government official, experiencing first-hand how the policy-making process works. The BES also organises workshops each year to bring policy-makers and scientists closer together, so building networks of collaboration.

Access the ODI’s report
Find out more about the BES’s Ministerial Shadowing Scheme and Policy Meetings.