Science supporting policy-making

Lauri Hetemäki Since the beginning of 2015, EFI has scaled up its science-policy support activities through its new Multi-Donor Trust Fund for policy support. There is an increasing demand for science-based information and syntheses on European forest-related issues. Often the bottleneck for decision makers is not a shortage of science-based information, but rather the lack of synthesis studies written in a format which is understandable and helpful for supporting policy planning. EFI’s policy support work aims to help evidence-based decision making and enhance science-policy dialogue.

Typically, policy-making requires a good understanding of multiple and complex issues with wide coverage of different aspects, i.e., a synthesis on a topic. However, mainstream science is built to go the other way. Science structures and incentives have developed over time to look at more and more specialized entities or smaller focus areas. Yet in the ever more complex, cross-sectorial and rapidly changing European forest-based sector the importance and need for this type of synthesis study is increasing. Just think about the grand issues the European forest-based sector is facing this century: climate change, new bioeconomy products and services, structural challenges in global forest products markets, synergies and trade-offs between different usages of forests, etc.

There is a general lack of synthesis reviews which can say what the science community knows on a particular topic at a more holistic level. EFI’s science-policy activities help to bring European and global forest research and other research organisations’ scientific work to decision makers on issues that are on today’s political agenda. We also aim to bring forward emerging issues which are not yet on today’s political agenda, but are likely to be on tomorrow’s.

Currently there is no other platform at the pan-European level doing this type of science-policy work on forest issues. Our policy support activities are helping to bridge this gap. Our organisational structure also gives a good basis for this: we are owned by the governments of 25 European countries and our c.120 Associate Members. The former are those demanding evidence-based information, while the latter are the suppliers of it. The purpose of the EFI science-policy platform is to act as a broker. We help our member countries and stakeholders to find reliable and robust information and to arrive at a balanced and well-reflected judgement on their own.

Lauri Hetemäki, EFI Assistant Director

Photo: Simon Pugh