23 June 2016

Scientifically based environmental protection the theme for international meeting in Stockholm

Since the beginning of this century there has been a growing interest in evidence-based environmental conservation. At the end of the summer scientists, environmental agencies and interest organisations will gather at a conference to share knowledge and experience.

In August, an international conference will be held on the theme of how science can contribute to better environmental protection. Organisations behind the conference include Mistra’s Council for Evidence-based Environmental Management (EviEM).

‘How should we apply research findings in the area of environmental protection, and how do we know which findings to rely on? We need to keep developing good review methods, jointly with researchers and decision-makers,’ says Sif Johansson, head of Mistra EviEM.

Mistra EviEM belongs to the international Collaboration for Environmental Evidence (CEE) network. By compiling evidence on various subjects in environmental policy and management, CEE brings together scientists and decision-makers who work for a sustainable environment. The theme of CEE’s first annual conference on 25–27 August, at the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, is ‘Better Evidence, Better Decisions, Better Environment’.

This three-day conference will consist partly of a series of workshops on such topics as practical ways of carrying out systematic reviews and how computers and various software programs can facilitate the work. Anyone, whether a researcher or an environmental manager, can learn much about Mistra EviEM’s procedure for systematic reviews, Johansson says.

‘Our reviews provide support for decisions on measures to improve the environment. Many, often costly actions to improve the environment are being carried out, but how often do we evaluate knowledge of the effects of different measures before we take decisions?’

One of the key speakers at the conference will be Professor Andrew Pullin of Bangor University in the UK. It was Pullin who, at the beginning of the 21st century, adapted evaluation methods in evidence-based medicine for application in the environmental area. The list of speakers also includes representatives of various agencies, such as Hans Bruyninckx of the European Environment Agency (EEA) and Anna Jöborn of the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management.

One question to be clarified during the conference is how research results in not only natural sciences but also social sciences can pave the way for environmental protection measures. Professor Sandy Oliver of the EPPI-Centre in London will speak on this subject.

‘She’s engaged in systematic reviews that include social science research as well. If we’re to get anywhere with environmental work, we’ve got to evaluate research on the effects of policies and on people’s attitudes and behaviour,’ Johansson says.

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