Live blog - 2nd BiodiversityKnowledge Conference (#BDKconf2)

Reblogged from INNGE's blog, originally posted on Mon, 09/23/2013 - 22:32


 Latest entry 5:00 PM, Sep 27 2013 - Copenhagen

INNGE has been requested to give feedback on a research project to explore how a science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services might look like in Europe.


In a live blogging experiment I aim to update this blog post regularly with impressions and thoughts during the 3 day conference in Berlin.

Entry 5:00 PM, Sep 27 2013 - Copenhagen

Institutions, networks, funders, networks... and more institutions?

During the third and last day of the BiodiverstyKnowledge conference the focus was on how existing institutions and networks could contribute to an eventual European Network of Knowledge.

A diverse group of stakeholders highlighted their potential contributions and benefits from a Network of Knowledge. The grup included:

If anything, the thirteen 5 min speed presentations and the esuing round table discussion revealed a high level of enthusiasm and even concrete suggestions to reach a better organized European biodiversity science-policy interface.

The discussion especially focused on two challenges for the implementation of the Network of Knowledge.

Ensuring openness, minimizing redundancies


Another tangled bank

As already mentioned the European landscape of biodiversity research networks is already quite complex.

Checkout this mapping exercise of the BiodiversityKnowledge project if you are not convinced

My personal experience is that the typical early-career researchers in the field are lost and basically have given up in trying to untangle this tangled bank of research networks. Furthermore and more worrying, this complex landscape is currently likely to prevent some younger scientists in engaging with and pursuing a career through these networks.

From the standpoint of early-career scientists I think one thing must take priority no matter whether the Network of Knowledge ends up taken the shape of a network or a platform:

  • A realization of the Network of Knowledge must contribute to signficantly simplify the current landscape of research networks especially in terms of minimizing redundancies, and strenghtening legitimacy of networks.

  • At best, this new landscape would result in a single entry point for early-career scientists who want to engage in the science-policy interface of biodiversity research at the European level.

Does inclusivity foster legitimacy?

Another important and closely related feature of Network of Knowledge is that it must be open and inclusive, otherwise we are only likely to keep seeing related initiatives popping up. Like many other approaches to science, particaptory networks can also fall victim to an "us and them" mentality of: "Those that want to join can join and those who are not liking the idea, well too bad." In this context in the context of legitimacy of a Network of Knowledge it was pointed out a couple of times during day three that few institutional leaders or directors were present at the meeting. To achieve the goals listed in the above two bullet points, attracting more leaders seems like an important challenge for a Network of Knowledge.

Sum up

So to sum up the discussion during day 3, it was encouraging to see the open discussion of some of the challenges for the ambitious goals set out in the BiodiversityKnowledge project. Openness, inclusiveness and legitimacy are three of the keywords I take with me home from the closing debate.

Finally, on the openness side it was really exciting to see the whole meeting live streamed (see picture below) and day 3 ended with a big thank you to the web streaming team.




Entry 6:20 PM, Sep 26 2013 - tazpresso, Berlin

On day two discussions focused on the challenges in implementing the Network of Knowledge that BiodiversityKnowledge has been simulating over the past year.

Two modes of BiodiversityKnowledge

As chapter 5 of the draft white paper outlines, BiodiversityKnowledge could be implemented in two modes. By the way this forum provides the opportunity for everyone to comment on the proposed design options.

A network of networks?

In its most basic implementation, the Network of Knowledge would focus on improving linkages between the complex ecosystem of existing networks, platforms and institutions in Europe that work on biodiversity science and policy. This would include players from the science production side, such as the research networks, as well as from the science user/requester side, such as the various bodies of the EU.

The main virtue of this paralel to the basic cable TV package would be to provide a forum where all this science producers and consumers could communicate more efficiently, and ...

"would basically rely on existing institutions, networks and initiatives to be strengthened and willing to bring together their expertise and resources"

A science-policy platform?

The full implementation of the BiodiversityKnowledge vision would, as the white paper puts it, involve setting up an entire new body:

"A more ambitious solution is to set up a new body, similar to IPBES, at the European level with its own governance structure, ensuring a stronger link between science and policy"

The benefit of this full implementation would be to have a a larger secretariat to coordinate the work. As the white paper puts it:

"Addressing the actors broadly might be easier in this platform solution, as more resources for engagement would be available and thus strongly strengthen the legitimacy also on the knowledge holder side."


"The strength of the platform model would be even more strengthened, if it is set up with a long-term plan and vision to allow a built in, iterative self-improvement mechanism..."

Obviously, no matter which of the two Network of Knowledge modes that end up being implemented plenty of opportunities andd challenges lie ahead in making biodversity research more easily accesible for European policy makers, this will be the focus of the next blog update.

Here is the group photo from the 2nd day of the conferece. A European science-policy interface on biodiversity has many faces - these are just some of them.





Entry 3:30 PM, Sep 25 2013, Jerusalemkirche, Berlin

Plenty of expertise, little time

One of the discussions to emerge from the first day of the conference is the issue of time and expertise. The experts that have the most to offer in answering policy requests may also often be the ones with the least time to do so. How does a science-policy knowledge network like the one BiodiversityKnowledge is mimicking address that issue. For an early-career scientist one idea that immediately comes to mind is to train younger scientists in eganging with policy makers while answering requests. Maybe this is something for science-policy knowledge network to consider.

Here is a pricture form the breakout groups that are progressing well during day two.






*Entry 11:00 AM, Sep 25 2013, Jerusalemkirche, Berlin *

The three test cases

During the past year or so Biodiversity Knowledge has been testing some of the functions of an eventual science-policy Network of Knowledge (NoK). Three test cases have been carried out ranging from

1) the impact of multi-functional flood management on biodiversity

, over,

2) current trends in European kelp forests and their consequnces for provisioning of ecosystem services


3) the types of landscape management that can help increase "natural" pest regulation and contribute to reducing pesticide use in agriculture

During day one the experiences from the three test cases were presented and two discussions developed out of those.

How do we match questions with methods

In the three test cases BiodiversityKnowledge have tested three methods. 1) expert consultation, 2) systematic review and 3) adaptive management.

Andrew Pullin emphasized that the type of method applied will depend on the policy requests coming in.

In particular, it may be useful to distinguish between requests of e.g. horizon scanning, better predictions of future (natural) dynamics, and impact assessment of management actions. Pullin used a Journal of Applied Ecology paper from 2009 to illustrate how such knowledge requests from policy makers can be unpacked into science.

more to come...


here's a picture from last night's conference dinner - dining under dinosaurs



*Entry 6:20 PM, Sep 24 2013, Jerusalem Kirche, Berlin *

The first day of the conference is now well completed with a lot of discussion of opportunities and challenges in setting up a regional science-policy knowledge network. I will briefly try to summarize a couple of the main discussions.

The four shades of BiodiversityKnowledge

The conference was kicked off by Heidi Wittmer and Carsten Neßhöver sketching the core functions of the Network of Knowledge (NoK) that BiodiversityKnowledge is simulating. It turns out that a realized NoK actually could have four functions.

First, NoK would be a network of existing knowledge networks in biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Secondly, Nok will service decision makers by answering knowledge requests.

Thirdly, the NoK's knowledge production and synthesis can be costly. The Nok might there for need an overall research strategy or funding mechanism.

Fourth and finally, the NoK would have to place itself in the international setting and may contribute to activities coming out of IPBES and the Convention on Biological Diversity's - Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice CBD SBSTTA - what an acroynym!


Here's a picture of the conference venue in the  Tuesday Berlin drizzle





Entry 11:30 AM Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin

The flight to Berlin was a good opportunity to read up on the context of BiodiversityKnowlege.

A multidiscplinary era for conservation biology and ecologists?

As the white paper (Box 01) beautifully states, the past 20 years since entering of the Convention on Biological Diversity(CBD) have seen an opening up of conservation biology. Now, conservation biology is increasingly integrating with natural resource management and concepts such as ecosystem services and natural capital have become fundamental.

What does this mean for ecologists? For one it means that ecologists working to inform or practicing conservation biology finds themselves in a much more multidisciplinary context. To make a diffrence, ecological research must be better integrated with the work of social scientists, economists, political scientists etc. etc.

The IPBES context

The BiodiversityKnowlege is being carried out in an interesting time for applied ecology at the global level. With the recent lauch of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), previously featured on this blog, BiodiversityKnowledge comes at a time where much is set to improve for the availability of biodiversity and ecosystem research to decision makers.

The work coming out of the BiodiversityKnowledge projet could well end up influencing how a European IPBES node will look like. I hope to learn much more about those prospects during the next three days...

The one world bear

For now I will leave you with an impression from walking Berlin trying to find my hotel. The One World Bear is a symbol for - amongst other things - international collaboration. Let's hope the BiodiversityKnowledge conference can result in some of that.




Entry 6:20 AM, Sep 24 2013 - Copenhagen airport

A live streamed conference

I will keep this first entry fairly short and just note that it is encouraging to see a conference where pretty much the entire program is livestreamed. Watch it here

Aim of the conference

As the conference website states:

The objective of this second conference is to discuss and finalize the recommended design of a future Network of Knowledge (NoK) on biodiversity and ecosystem services in Europe.

The basis for the discussion will be a draft for a white paper written by members of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) funded EU project.


The conference takes place in Jerusalemkirche in Berlin.