Work Package Three
ENGAGING WITH POLICY MAKERS ON MBIs :
DECISION SUPPORT TOOL,
KNOWLEDGE AND THE LAW
Although research on biodiversity, ecosystem services and economic valuations has proliferated, including with the INVALUABLE project, this information rarely informs conservation policies in practice. Departing from this persisting ‘implementation gap’ and ‘integration’ challenge (Rodela et al., 2015), INVALUABLE research has thus elaborated on institutional or organizational, technical as well as legal approaches to enhance the science-policy interface (SPI) in the development of MBIs (Figure 6).
Figure 6: Analysing science-policy interface needs for MBIs design
Source: Born and Bregt, 2015, presentation at the final INVALUABLE Conference, Paris, 19 june 2015:
THE KNOWLEDGE BROKERAGE DOMAIN: SCIENTIFIC CREDIBILITY AND LEGITIMACY NEEDED
After gaining a systematic analytical understanding about the practical working of supposedly innovative SPI formats and concluding on the existence of very limited evidence about SPI in biodiversity, INVALUABLE investigated particular integrative knowledge brokerage (KB) practices in the climate change policy field. In the latter case, results suggest that decision orientation in KB is often ‘tinsel and glitter’ rather than true responsiveness to political realms. Linear knowledge transfer from science to policy still prevails and legitimacy is often set aside for sake of scientific credibility (Reinecke, 2015). Surprisingly, even exceptionally innovative cases, like the United Kingdom Climate Impact Programme (UKCIP), risk being canned by clients if they induce undesired shifts in the distribution of power in science and policy. Hence, re-designing SPI in bottom-up oriented ways with meaningful involvement of different stakeholders remains a major challenge and may incite heavy resistance in science and policy. Among the few cases where economic approaches to biodiversity conservation actually already inform policies is the controversial Project Prioritization Protocol (PPP) model for prioritizing investment in threatened species. Based on the concept of conservation triage, only a set of threatened species is actively managed and financed, while other species are left to fend for themselves. The experiences of national and state conservation departments in Australia and New Zealand suggest that involving different stakeholders in decision-making processes is important to acknowledge the societal values associated with threatened species. However, an unresolved concern persists because translating science into numbers may obscure the high uncertainty in ecological systems and thereby create false certainty in decisions (Kilham and Reneicke, 2015).
In this context, INVALUABLE insights show that mutual understanding, stakeholders’ participation and avoiding narrow views on ecosystem services and valuation are essential for science policy support (Kilham et al., 2015). In this regard, Decision Support Systems (DSS) are critical knowledge integration tools, but are rarely used.
DSS TOOLS FOR SPI: KNOWLEDGE INTEGRATION, LEARNING AND SHARED UNDERSTANDING NEEDED
As a response, QUICKScan tool is a Spatial DSS meant to support participatory decision-making processes. The tool was developed in collaboration with the potential users with the aim to address current policy-maker needs; stakeholder involvement during tool design and development also helped to keep key aspects at focus. Its use in the planning of MBIs development—especially spatially-explicit schemes like habitat banking—is thought to enhance transparency, legitimacy as well as their effectiveness in the field. Against this backdrop, INVALUABLE research empirically confirmed that QUICKScan software actually performs well on “soft aspects” of knowledge integration, learning and shared understanding when used during a participatory process (Rodela, Bregt et al., 2015) and thus has great potential for MBIs design in policy arenas. This can be linked back to the opportunity QUICKScan sessions’ participants have to take an active role and contribute with own knowledge and expertise throughout the mapping process.
The QUICKScan tool allows fast processing of data and prompt display of look-up maps and other visualizations which are immediately available for discussion (see Figure 7 below). This greatly benefits the discussion as gaps and mistakes in the line of reasoning can be identified promptly and the process refined. Making explicit the logic of the steps taken benefits the process and allows for a sense of ownership of the outcomes achieved (e.g., maps) because participants can see the way in which their knowledge was integrated in the final outcomes. The visualizations produced by the QUICKScan help the discussion and allow unlocking issues of interest. However, results also suggest that prior knowledge of GIS helps the participants in better understanding the outputs QUICKScan produces such as maps, diagrams, tables (Rodela, Bregt et al., 2015).
Figure 7: QuickScan Visuals
Source: INVALUABLE Newsletter 6 & Concept Paper, 2015
FLEXIBILITY NEEDS REGULATION: THE FALSE PUBLIC-PRIVATE DILEMMA
Focusing on the role and intensity needed for public as well as private regulation in the efficient design and implementation of MBIs for biodiversity, especially PES and mitigation banking schemes, INVALUABLE legal research investigated four PES case studies (Indonesia, Costa Rica, France, and Belgium) and two habitat banking schemes in the USA.
One the one hand, results again suggest that the binary distinction between ’public’ and ’private’ PES is not relevant from a legal point of view. A gradient model of public intervention seems more accurate and is proposed, as it covers the full range of PES, from mostly private PES like in the Vittel case to fully public-driven PES like in the agro-environmental environmental scheme in Belgium, based on regional subsidies. However, position along this public-private spectrum does not seem to determine the effectiveness, efficacy or efficiency of PES. The intensity and quality of the scheme’s normative and institutional framework appears more important, irrespective of whether it was public or private. The more sophisticated the regulation, the better the results in the field across all important success factors, among which are knowledge integration and the presence of monitoring and enforcement procedures. In fine, this actually usefully contradicts the dominant belief that market-based approaches to environmental protection are associated with less regulation as compared to classical command-and-control approaches.
On the other hand, INVALUABLE evidence highlights the critical role of regulation for feeding relevant scientific and non-scientific knowledge and values into the decision-making process. Indeed, data unravelled the role that conservation planning processes and environmental and sustainability impact assessments can play for providing scientific evidence for informing different schemes. Besides, legal procedures and institutions ensuring public participation and dialogue between stakeholders were identified as success factors during the establishment and implementation phases of the MBIs, as shown in the cases of Vittel and agro-environmental measures. This fostered not only the attractiveness and the environmental performance of the scheme but also its legitimacy.