Background: The effective communication of environmental science to policy makers, and to the public stakeholders in those policies, is an important consideration for the 17 organisations (environmental ministries and regulators, research councils and research institutes) that comprise the SKEP ERA‐NET (European Research Area Network).

Objective: This paper summarises the findings of a study carried out by SKEP to establish the approaches to, and experiences of, its members of science communication for environmental policy making and regulation. Issues addressed, and reported on in the paper, include: the planning and management of communication activities; the value of different modes of communicating research results; the role of interpreters and intermediaries; engagement with stakeholders; and evaluation of science communication and the uptake of research in policy.

Methods: The study was carried out in 2006/2007 and involved face‐to‐face interviews, taking a semi‐structured approach, with 95 people in 33 organisations across 11 EU member states. The study concluded with a workshop for SKEP members held in April 2007 at which guidelines on best practice for the communication of environmental science were developed.

Results: The paper will present key findings of the study including:
• the importance of properly planning and resourcing communication activities as an integral component of research management activities;
• the need to develop a good understanding of audiences and tailor communication channels and content to them: face‐to‐face interactions are of particular value in enabling issues of interpretation to be resolved;
• interpreters and intermediaries can play an important role in facilitating interactions between the science and stakeholder communities, and in providing a balanced overview when there are competing claims to the "truth";
• increasing emphasis is being put on engagement with public stakeholders whose actions are key to future environmental improvements; and
• the evaluation of communication activities and of the uptake of science is recognised as important, but is a neglected area.

Conclusions: The paper concludes with an overview of the experiences of science communication activities of SKEP member organisations, comparing similarities and differences across Europe.

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PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Communicating environmental science in Europe

John Holmes   University of Oxford

Jennie Savgaard   Swedish Environmental Protection Agency

Background: The effective communication of environmental science to policy makers, and to the public stakeholders in those policies, is an important consideration for the 17 organisations (environmental ministries and regulators, research councils and research institutes) that comprise the SKEP ERA‐NET (European Research Area Network).

Objective: This paper summarises the findings of a study carried out by SKEP to establish the approaches to, and experiences of, its members of science communication for environmental policy making and regulation. Issues addressed, and reported on in the paper, include: the planning and management of communication activities; the value of different modes of communicating research results; the role of interpreters and intermediaries; engagement with stakeholders; and evaluation of science communication and the uptake of research in policy.

Methods: The study was carried out in 2006/2007 and involved face‐to‐face interviews, taking a semi‐structured approach, with 95 people in 33 organisations across 11 EU member states. The study concluded with a workshop for SKEP members held in April 2007 at which guidelines on best practice for the communication of environmental science were developed.

Results: The paper will present key findings of the study including:
• the importance of properly planning and resourcing communication activities as an integral component of research management activities;
• the need to develop a good understanding of audiences and tailor communication channels and content to them: face‐to‐face interactions are of particular value in enabling issues of interpretation to be resolved;
• interpreters and intermediaries can play an important role in facilitating interactions between the science and stakeholder communities, and in providing a balanced overview when there are competing claims to the "truth";
• increasing emphasis is being put on engagement with public stakeholders whose actions are key to future environmental improvements; and
• the evaluation of communication activities and of the uptake of science is recognised as important, but is a neglected area.

Conclusions: The paper concludes with an overview of the experiences of science communication activities of SKEP member organisations, comparing similarities and differences across Europe.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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