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Second BiodiversityKnowledge Conference Meeting in Berlin

October 1, 2013

Last week, researchers and policy-makers from across Europe met in Berlin for the second BiodiversityKnowledge Conference. The BiodiversityKnowledge initiative aims to set up a “Network of Knowledge” (NoK) which will help connect biodiversity knowledge to policy-making and to wider European society. The business plan for NoK will be presented in April of next year.


BiodiversityKnowledge fosters “diversity in the biodiversity community.”
Photo: “Cape Flora Diversity” by Gossipguy – CC: SA

Such a network is needed because while scientists and other knowledge holders are continually developing vast amounts of information, access to that information is spread across what BiodiversityKnowledge calls a “scattered landscape” of institutions, organizations, and people. Furthermore, policy-makers often need information more quickly and in different formats than scientists produce. The NoK will help policy-makers from the European Union down to the local level get the information they need, when they need it, in order to make informed decisions.

The project aims to create a “one-stop-shop,” which will build on the Biodiversity Information System for Europe (BISE), created by the European Environment Agency in 2010. While BISE contains a great deal of information about biodiversity, it doesn’t directly link policy-makers to the communities that study their issues. The NoK will register knowledge hubs focused on particular thematic areas and give decision-makers a “who’s who” so that they can request information directly from the most relevant group.

BiodiversityKnowledgeIn last week’s conference, many new potential partners linked up with the project, says Heidi Wittmer of UFZ, one of the organizers. Conference members went on a “participatory walk” through the NoK; each chose a question that might be addressed to knowledge-holders (for example, “What do we know about the efficiency of agri-environmental measures?”) and then discussed how the network would address it. They also discussed challenges that the initiative faces, such as governance issues, communication, capacity-building, and making sure that NoK’s results are useful to policy-makers.

A particular highlight came on the last day, according to Wittmer. Representatives from twelve different networks came on stage together to discuss how to move the idea of a “network of networks” forward. “This really gave me hope,” Wittmer says, “that as scientific community we can improve the interaction with policy-makers together, in a very bottom up and thus tailor-made way.” She believes that now is the ideal moment to link up across networks, from long-term experimental sites and global biodiversity information all the way to early career researchers.

The results of the conference will be used to further develop the white paper and bring the Network of Knowledge that much closer to fruition, when it will support European policy from the development stage all the way through to evaluation and management. Asked about the initiative’s next steps, Wittmer says it’s important for all networks and projects (including the BioFresh community) to get actively involved, as BiodiversityKnowledge draws together its proposal. “We will incorporate all the valuable feedback received last week to make the proposal even more convincing and launch it to the policy community so they can effectively link up to it,” she says.

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