Environmental science-policy organisations project - Red List and IPBES actor interviews

Starting from January 2019, Anna Salomaa has worked on her post-doc project titled Environmental science-policy organisations in the era of post-truth.

Recently, several science-policy interface organisations have been established to compile and assess existing knowledge, as well as facilitate dialogue between science and policy (see e.g. Tinch et al. 2018). The work of these interface organisations involves various actors from science to policy to practise and everywhere between these.

One of the key questions in the first work package of the project is that how the actors perceive the meaning of the impact of environmental science-policy organisations. To answer this question the work during spring and summer 2019 has included planning and interviewing Red List and IPBES actors. IPBES is the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Red lists are assessments of threatened species and habitat types, products that produce and assess knowledge that is potentially useful for policy.

Anna has interviewed 15 Red List authors, from the peatland ecosystem expert group and the forest ecosystem expert group, and the leaders of the Red List project. The semi-structured interviews covered broad themes of the process of writing the Red Lists of Ecosystems, author’s own role in writing, and the impact of Red Lists in society. The first round to analyse the data with a framework based on the sustainability leverage points (Meadows 1999) have been taken. The idea is to analyse the perceptions of nature knowledge producers about the impact of knowledge to sustainability transformation. Sustainability leverage points mean places or ways to potentially get systems to change.

In addition, Anna has interviewed the Finnish delegation of IPBES-7 plenary and the Finnish authors of completed IPBES reports except Africa Regional Assessment, totalling 12 interviewees. The assessments included The regional assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services for Europe and Central Asia, The assessment report on land degradation and restoration, and The global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services. The interview questions covered interviewees own role in relation to IPBES, the impact of earlier assessment and IPBES processes, and how interviewees perceive plurality of evidence, all reflective to their own standing and experience.

Interviewing these science-policy actors has been delightful. Interviewees have central knowledge on the procedures and processes that take place in biodiversity science-policy interface. Especially with IPBES interviews, it has been pleasant to see how busy experts are still willing to give their time in advancing research. Later, the second work package will produce a typology of impact of various Finnish environmental science-policy panels through a systematic literature review. Finally, the data from different work packages will be brought together to answer the question how do science-policy organisations work as a combination in the alleged post truth-era.


Meadows, D. 1999. Leverage points – Places to intervene in a system. Sustainability institute, Hartland, VT.

Tinch, R., Balian, E., et al. 2018. Science-policy interfaces for biodiversity: dynamic learning environments for successful impact. Biodiversity and Conservation 27(7):1679-1702.

The project Environmental science-policy organisations in the era of post-truth is funded by Kone Foundation. Conference abstract of the project: 10.17011/conference/eccb2018/107331

Tietoa hankkeesta Ympäristötiedon ja politiikan rajapintaorganisaatiot totuuden jälkeisenä aikana suomeksi: https://koneensaatio.fi/apurahat/tuetut/2017-2/vuosittainen-apurahahaku-tieteen-arvioijaprofiilit-8-12-2017/