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J Environ Manage. 2013 Jan 15;114:328-35. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2012.10.025. Epub 2012 Nov 15.

Channelling science into policy: enabling best practices from research on land degradation and sustainable land management in dryland Africa.

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Sustainability Research Institute, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK.


Demands are increasing for scientific research to be explicitly and demonstrably policy relevant. Research funders are requiring greater returns on their investments and scientists are expected to demonstrate clearly how their research can inform policy and regulation to deliver positive consequences for societal, economic and environmental wellbeing. Within the co-evolving context of environmental management research in dryland Africa and the policy approaches designed to mitigate land degradation, few academic analyses have deconstructed the practical 'bottom-up' actions that can help to channel scientific research into national decision-making and policy. Similarly, while international platforms developed by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification have started to facilitate greater knowledge exchange between scientists and policymakers, analyses have failed to consider the powerful informal actions that scientists can take to allow their research to inform evidence-based international policy. Drawing on examples in the literature from research on land degradation and sustainable land management across sub-Saharan African drylands, we identify key enabling activities that help make scientific research more visible, accessible to, and compatible with, policy processes at local, national and international levels. We argue that these enablers are applicable to other environmental research areas beyond land degradation, and suggest that improved understanding of science into policy processes that look across multiple scales and levels will help researchers and policy-makers to better match information supply and demand to the mutual benefit of both groups.

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