SW-9 :: Communication and implementation: Societal reach and impact

Research on societal reach and impact should be of interest to funders as well as researchers as societal relevance and impact are becoming more and more important in motivating official and private funding and in evaluations, as mentioned by several NKS. The Formas Report (2015c) “Meeting societal challenges” concludes that there is a need to move away from traditional communication of results and data to a focus on reliability, trust and other soft values. Much of the societal relevance and practical impact of research is driven by how research is communicated and used as the basis of implementation in policy decisions and/or planning practices. It would be a good investment to allocate some funding on this research from research budgets within the scope of INSPIRATION (land/land use, soil-water-sediment). Examples identified are listed below:

Land management:
• How can tools and processes, novel possibilities related to Information Technology be developed?
• How can research questions be formulated from and adapted to specific stakeholder needs?
• How can the governance challenges and regulatory issues in integrating climate change intersectorally be addressed?
Why? There is still a need for finding novel ways to include relevant stakeholders in the research agendas, as well as in individual projects. The governance preconditions for research (e.g. jurisdictional and normative backgrounds) are also essential to understand how research can influence policy implementation. The Formas report “Meeting Societal Challenges” (Formas 2015c) asserts the importance of communication strategies between decision makers, scientists, practitioners and the public and involving them not only as the beneficiaries of the research results, but also in the “co-production” of knowledge.

Net impacts:
• What communication approaches/techniques/strategies/activities are efficient in practice (Cost/benefit)
• How can behavioural studies of how emotions and other “soft” factors affect decision making for land use questions?
• How can concepts of ecological and social resilience (i.e. thresholds and breaking points) be operationalised and used as communication tools?
• How do stakeholders value ecosystem services and how can these result in social, economic and environmental development?
• How can adaptive processes for the development, adaptation and assessment of ecosystem instruments be developed and how can they deal with change?*
• How do learning processes and implementation in various types of organisations help to implement ecosystem services?*

Why? Communication and involvement strategies demand time and resources, both for the researchers and for the users of knowledge. It is important to evaluate the costs and benefits of such strategies in order to make them as efficient and fair as possible. Understanding the human and behavioural elements (humanistic studies) of how knowledge of natural/technical science and land use planning are implemented and communicated is an area of that would better help to close the science-policy gap. Understanding learning processes, adaptive governance and instruments for implementation and valuation methods which include stakeholders are gaps identified in the Formas report “Analysis of research on biological diversity and ecosystem services” (Formas 2015a).
*from Formas 2015a “Analys av forskning om biologisk mångfald och ekosystemtjänster”