Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 27, Issue 7, pp 1679–1702 | Cite as

Science-policy interfaces for biodiversity: dynamic learning environments for successful impact

  • Rob TinchEmail author
  • Estelle Balian
  • Dave Carss
  • Driss Ezzine de Blas
  • Nicoleta Adriana Geamana
  • Ulrich Heink
  • Hans Keune
  • Carsten Nesshöver
  • Jari Niemelä
  • Simo Sarkki
  • Maxime Thibon
  • Johannes Timaeus
  • Angheluta Vadineanu
  • Sybille van den Hove
  • Allan Watt
  • Kerry A. Waylen
  • Heidi Wittmer
  • Juliette C. Young
Original Paper


To address the pressing problems associated with biodiversity loss, changes in awareness and behaviour are required from decision makers in all sectors. Science-policy interfaces (SPIs) have the potential to play an important role, and to achieve this effectively, there is a need to understand better the ways in which existing SPIs strive for effective communication, learning and behavioural change. Using a series of test cases across the world, we assess a range of features influencing the effectiveness of SPIs through communication and argumentation processes, engagement of actors and other aspects that contribute to potential success. Our results demonstrate the importance of dynamic and iterative processes of interaction to support effective SPI work. We stress the importance of seeing SPIs as dynamic learning environments and we provide recommendations for how they can enhance success in meeting their targeted outcomes. In particular, we recommend building long-term trust, creating learning environments, fostering participation and ownership of the process and building capacity to combat silo thinking. Processes to enable these changes may include, for example, inviting and integrating feedback, extended peer review and attention to contextualising knowledge for different audiences, and time and sustained effort dedicated to trust-building and developing common languages. However there are no ‘one size fits all’ solutions, and methods must be adapted to context and participants. Creating and maintaining effective dynamic learning environments will both require and encourage changes in institutional and individual behaviours: a challenging agenda, but one with potential for positive feedbacks to maintain momentum.


Science policy interfaces Biodiversity Communication, argumentation, iterativity, behavioural change, societal change 



We thank all the interviewees and participants who took part in this work. This research was supported by SPIRAL “Science Policy Interfaces for Biodiversity Research Action and Learning”, an interdisciplinary research project funded under the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme, contract number: 244035.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rob Tinch
    • 1
  • Estelle Balian
    • 1
  • Dave Carss
    • 2
  • Driss Ezzine de Blas
    • 11
  • Nicoleta Adriana Geamana
    • 9
  • Ulrich Heink
    • 5
  • Hans Keune
    • 3
  • Carsten Nesshöver
    • 5
  • Jari Niemelä
    • 8
  • Simo Sarkki
    • 7
  • Maxime Thibon
    • 10
  • Johannes Timaeus
    • 6
  • Angheluta Vadineanu
    • 9
  • Sybille van den Hove
    • 1
  • Allan Watt
    • 2
  • Kerry A. Waylen
    • 4
  • Heidi Wittmer
    • 5
  • Juliette C. Young
    • 2
  1. 1.MedianSant Cugat del VallesSpain
  2. 2.NERC Centre for Ecology and HydrologyMidlothianUK
  3. 3.INBOAnderlechtBelgium
  4. 4.Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences GroupJames Hutton InstituteAberdeenUK
  5. 5.UFZ- Helmholtz Centre for Environmental ResearchLeipzigGermany
  6. 6.Verein zur Erhaltung der NutzpflanzenvielfaltFuldaGermany
  7. 7.Cultural Anthropology, Faculty of HumanitiesUniversity of OuluOuluFinland
  8. 8.Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Biological and Environmental SciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  9. 9.University of Bucharest - Research Center in Systems Ecology and SustainabilityBucharestRomania
  10. 10.Observatoire du Sahara et du SahelTunisTunisia
  11. 11.CIRAD - French Agricultural Research Centre for International DevelopmentMontpellierFrance

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