This page highlights the links the HighARCS project has made between science and policy at the local level (i.e. at the HighARCS project sites) and the broader regional and international levels.
The HighARCS projects core activities all built towards bridging the science-policy interface, primarily at the local level within the realms of conservation and development. The project generated scientific data and other qualitative information on the biodiversity, livelihood strategies, ecosystem services, and policies at each site and facilitated joint assessments with local communities and other stakeholders to create action plans which in turn influenced and generated changes in policy at local and in some regional and national levels. See section 3.1 (HighARCS project outputs) of the WRAP toolkit which presents each sites integrated assessments, stakeholder engagement and the development, implementation and monitoring of action plans.
As a central element in the project’s approach to linking science to policy – and policy to science – has been the undertaking of policy assessments at each site. A wetland policy assessment is an investigation into the legal frameworks, institutional set-ups and enforcement practices which govern the management of the natural resources and ecosystem services of the wetlands in a given area. This includes international, regional, national, provincial, and local scales of governance. A wetlands policy assessment also entails assessments of policies and legal frameworks influencing relevant aspects of socio-economic development and livelihood conditions in the area which, in turn, influence the state of the aquatic resources. The HighARCS policy assessments can be found in the reports on Institutions, Policies and Conflicts in section 3.1 (HighARCS project outputs) of the WRAP toolkit.
Advocacy and dialogue with policy-makers
Close dialogue was maintained with relevant authorities on HighARCS research into the state of wetlands, livelihoods, and institutions and policies progressed. Stakeholder meetings were organised where research findings were presented and assessments discussed, meetings and briefings were arranged with specific government agents, advocacy activities and trainings were organised, and authorities included as panel members in the Stakeholder Delphi surveys undertaken at each site, see the reports on Stakeholder Evaluations of Aquatic Resources in section 3.1 (HighARCS project outputs) of the WRAP toolkit.
Integrated Action Plans – policy links
Through the assessments and development of the action plans at the sites, a number of policy changes (or improvements of rules and regulations), or measures of enforcement were identified as desirable in order to improve the sustainable use and conservation of aquatic resources, mediate conflicts or competing uses, and improve local livelihoods. The integrated action plans (IAPs) can be found in the Implementation and Monitoring Strategy reports in section 3.1 (HighARCS project outputs) of the WRAP toolkit. All action plans were discussed with local authorities, and a number of actions were subsequently implemented by specific local government departments as an integrated part of their regular activities.
To support the implementation and impact of the integrated action plans, a number of policy changes were identified as desirable in order to improve the sustainable use and conservation of aquatic resources. Therefore a number of policy briefs wereproduced, each focused on a specific policy relevant issue at the site, and can be foundin section 3.1 (HighARCSproject outputs) of the WRAP toolkit.A guidance document on how to produce a policy brief was also developed , drawing on the International Development Research Centre, Toolkit for Researchers and the FAOFood Security Communications Toolkit.
The HighARCS project generated scientific findings that were relevant to conservation and development policy outside of the scope of the sites. This related to the processes followed or developed by the project, or the potential relevance of the results of the work at the sites to situations across the world.
CBD Aichi Targets
The WRAP toolkit is relevant for anyone working to achieve several of the Convention on Biological Diversity Strategic Plan for Biodiversity Strategic Goals and Aichi Targets. The aim of the toolkit is to provide a strategy to ensure that aquatic resources are managed sustainably, that biodiversity and ecosystem service values are incorporated into poverty reduction strategies (Aichi Target 2). It also incorporates the active engagement at all stages in the toolkit, from assessment to implementation of IAPs, of indigenous groups and local communities (specifically including gender and age groups) along with policy makers and other stakeholders (Target 18). Formulation of IAPs with a focus on aquatic resources will help ensure that all fish and invertebrate stocks and aquatic plants are managed and harvested sustainably (Target 6) and that essential ecosystem services are restored and safeguarded (Target 14). Click here for the poster on how the HighARCS toolkit helps implement the CBD Aichi targets, as presented at the CBD SBSTTA-17 meeting in October 2013
HighARCS contribution to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)
The results and methodologies from the HighARCS ecosystem services and biodiversity assessments, plus other relevant outputs such as the integrated action plans, at the five project sites have been submitted to the recently established Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The IPBES Catalogue of Assessments on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services will provide assessment case studies from global to site scale, to inform the future development of IPBES.
The Catalogue can be found here: http://ipbes.unepwcmc-004.vm.brightbox.net/.
TheHighARCS entry here http://ipbes.unepwcmc-004.vm.brightbox.net/assessments/202.
BioFresh Project & IUCN Red List
The BioFresh project (like the HighARCS project is funded by the European Commission) aims to build a global information platform for scientists and ecosystem managers with access to all available databases describing the distribution, status and trends of global freshwater biodiversity.
The IUCN Red List is the most comprehensive, objective global approach for evaluating the conservation status of plant and animal species. Its goal is to provide information and analyses on the status, trends and threats to species in order to inform and catalyse action for biodiversity conservation. It provides a global context for the establishment of conservation priorities at the local level; and Influences conservation decisions at multiple scales, from environmental impact assessments to international multilateral environmental agreements.
All the biodiversity Red List assessments and distribution maps produced through the HighARCS project are being made available through the BioFresh project and are all accessible on the IUCN Red List website.
The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB)
TEEB is an international initiative that aims to provide evidence and raise awareness of the economic benefits of biodiversity and ecosystem services, and the growing economic costs associated with their degradation. The initiative draws on expertise from science, policy and economics backgrounds and since 2008 has produced a number of reports, including ‘The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) for Water and Wetlands’ in 2013. This report uses the HighARCS project as an example of the importance of non-economic valuation of wetland ecosystem services.
Biodiversity Knowledge (EC FP7 KNEU Coordination Action)
HighARCS collaborated with the European Commission sponsored Biodiversity Knowledge initiative aimed at developing an ‘open networking approach to boost the knowledge flow between biodiversity knowledge holders and users in Europe’. A peer reviewed protocol was published for a Strategic Review Floodplain management in temperate regions: is multi-functionality enhancing biodiversity? (Schindler et al., 2013). The completed Strategic Review will provide a comprehensive synthesis of knowledge in a readily accessible format to bridge the research-policy interface.
Managing Water and Agroecosystems for Food Security
Findings and methods from HighARCS were included in ‘Managing Water and Agroecosystems for Food Security’ coordinated by the International Water Management Institute and United Nations Environment Programme and published by CABI as part of the Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture series. Notable contributions were made to chapters on ‘Wetlands’, ‘Increasing Water Productivity in Agriculture’ and ‘Management of Water and Agroecosystems in Landscapes for Sustainable Food Security’ and the book was launched at World Water Week 2013 at an event attended by the Program Director for the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems.
InnovationSeeds 100 promising EU-funded environmental R&D results
Outputs from HighARCS were summarised for inclusion within the European Commission sponsored InnovationSeeds ‘interactive portal for environmental research and knowledge’ that ‘repackages 100 promising EU-funded environmental R&D results to accelerate their uptake as policy measures and market success’.