|Association of American Geographers conference|
Dr Steve Fletcher has recently returned from the prestigious Association of American Geographers conference at which he presented a paper entitled: Stakeholder involvement in the process of converting science into policy: Perspectives from the European Marine Strategy Directive. Steve’s paper emphasised the importance of adequate provision for stakeholder involvement in the development of new marine strategies for European marine waters, without which, sound scientific inputs would not be converted into relevant policy. See below for a full summary of Steve’s paper. The conference was held in San Francisco and was attended by over 6000 geographers from all over the world.
Stakeholder involvement in the process of converting science into policy: Perspectives from the European Marine Strategy Directive.
Within the EU Marine Strategy Directive, stakeholder involvement is a continuing theme, particularly with regard to the establishment, implementation and updating of national and regional Marine Strategies. The Directive also asserts the requirement for a sound knowledge base to inform and underpin national and regional Marine Strategies. The conversion of science to policy through a stakeholder process is therefore likely to present challenges to member states and competent authorities. The poor management of a stakeholder process risks the formulation of poor policy, not due to scientific inadequacies, but through incomplete stakeholder understanding of, or flawed treatment of, scientific inputs. It is therefore important that the conversion process is managed with regard to the stakeholder profile and the complexity and tractability of the issues under debate. Additional important considerations for those leading the science to policy conversion process include: the recruitment of accountable and genuinely representative stakeholders; the motivation of stakeholders to engage in a learning process; the provision of scientific information to stakeholders that is comprehensive and comprehensible; the operation of a policy-making process that is fair to all participants; and, that all stakeholders have a demonstrable influence on the creation of policy. It is concluded that the manner in which the participatory process is organised and operated can influence policy outcomes; as such participatory processes will require careful and sensitive management to ensure they produce credible, supported, and scientifically grounded policy.