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Chapter Six: Shaping Public Policy

Researchers at the Sustainable Places Research Institute have contributed to public policy development at an international and national level.


The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is an independent intergovernmental body that strengthens the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, long-term human well-being and sustainable development. Our researchers contributed to their 2019 Regional Assessment, Europe and Asia, which explored opportunities to promote food security, economic development and equality while avoiding land and aquatic degradation and conserving cultural landscapes, as well as their Global Assessment report in 2020, which addressed global environmental changes and the policy and social dimensions of using restoration as an adaptation and mitigation tool. Our expertise is contributing to the IPBES Values Assessment, due for completion in 2022. This will present global findings on how diverse communities value nature differently and provide evidence to help decision-makers recognise different types of values of nature and to integrate plural valuation approaches into diverse decision-making contexts.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is a global union of governments, non-governmental organisations, other stakeholders and scientists who work together to provide the most up-to-date advice on biodiversity conservation, following best global practice.

Our researchers have played an important role in the Species Survival Commission of the IUCN, through leading the Conservation Genetics Specialist Group (CGSG) and membership of taxon specialist groups. Specifically, through the CGSG we published landmark papers in 2020 and 2021 (including two highly cited articles in Science) on the inclusion of genetic targets and indicators for the post-2020 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Framework and have gained traction within the CBD Framework with the inclusion of 2030 Milestones and 2050 Targets for wild species.

European Union

Ecological restoration

We have been part of the EKLIPSE Expert Working Group on the Effectiveness of Ecological Restoration, and through this we informed the review of the EU Biodiversity Strategy. We helped to highlight the ecological and social complexities of biodiversity restoration, detailing the barriers and how these can be overcome.

Social innovation

Our research contributed to the 2017 review commissioned by European Commission DG Research and Innovation to examine the place of social innovation in the research and development projects funded by the EU. We investigated the relevance of social innovation and its research in collective action, policy making and socio-political transformation in Europe and globally.

Genetic diversity

We have played a key role in the G-Bike COST Action project (Genomic Biodiversity Knowledge for Resilient Ecosystems) focusing on current activities and best practice for monitoring of genetic diversity, both across Europe and globally. We have developed a set of guidelines and key tools for the implementation of national genetic monitoring programs, an area that has been severely lacking to date in national responses to biodiversity loss.


Changing Sustainable land and resource management in Wales

Researchers from our Institute contributed to the National Assembly for Wales’ Environment and Sustainability Committee enquiry during 2014. This influenced the subsequent Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and Environment (Wales) Act 2016, not least in developing the concept of sustainable management of natural resources. This concept is now the central and statutory role of Natural Resource Wales.

Re-Designing Designated Landscape Policy

Professor Terry Marsden chaired the Welsh Government’s Review of the structures and governance of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (Designated Landscapes of Wales) in 2014. This led to policy proposals for changes to the legal basis of protected areas in Wales to align them with the duty of sustainable management of natural resources as set out in the Environment (Wales) Act 2016.

Boosting wildlife and improving biodiversity in Wales

We worked with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB Cymru) to produce a report investigating how biodiversity could be reflected in Natural Resources Wales’ work on the statutory area statements on local natural resources, as required by the Environment (Wales) Act 2016 to inform other public bodies’ priorities. This research informed Natural Resource Wales’ implementation of the area statements and how they could fully consider the role that biodiversity plays in supporting local ecosystem resilience.

Biodiversity and Ecosystem Evidence Research Needs program

We have led the academic input into Welsh Government’s evidence research needs program, which is a funding scheme that allows for small projects across the HEI sector, enabling crucial evidence to be gathered for both Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales’ implementation of the Environment (Wales) Act 2016. This activity comprises support for project evaluation and funding decisions and involves Welsh Government, NRW, the Welsh NGO sector and Welsh HEI Academics working in partnership to shape the research program, with approximately 10 projects awarded each year.