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Strengthening the Dialogue between Scientists and DLDD Policymakers: Moving forward in operationalizing the Science-Policy Interface

12/02/2014 - Policymakers struggle to create regulations and support policies that put a stop to land degradation.  They understand that addressing land degradation is key to achieving food security, alleviating poverty, and restoring the flow of the land's ecosystem services that support human well-being. But, they lack the scientific foundation to link land degradation issues into policymaking that results in achieving these goals.

The members of the Committee of Science and Technology (CST) Bureau met on 4-6 February 2014 at the UNCCD secretariat in Bonn, Germany to respond to this challenge by, among others, developing the foundation for the new Science-Policy Interface (SPI)  as decided  by the COP11.

The SPI is being created to identify the needs for scientific knowledge and the mechanisms for addressing them, that will help Parties and policymakers  use science to shape policies that address poverty alleviation, food security and the benefits derived from biodiversity in the context of land's sustainable use. It will comprise a body of globally renowned DLDD and political scientists, who will identify breakthroughs in land degradation prevention and degraded land restoration, align research programs with policy needs, and present findings to policymakers in a language that can be used to mold effective and sustainable land use policies to secure land productivity. 

CST Bureau members kicked-off discussions with an introduction from the new Executive Secretary, Ms. Monique Barbut. Setting this CST Bureau meeting apart from previous ones, the recently appointed Executive Secretary challenged Bureau members to:

CST Bureau members took these proposals into account in defining the foundation for the Science-Policy Interface (SPI).  They agreed on the Terms of Reference for the SPI as well as on the criteria and modalities that will guide the selection process for SPI scientists.  The SPI is expected to be an active and functional entity by June 2014 when SPI members will meet to define the programme of work for 2014 and 2015. 
CST  Bureau members also highlighted the need for collaborating with the Intergovernmental Platform for Ecosystem Services (IPBES) on the implementation of the "assessment on land degradation and restoration" program.  This assessment aims to review the currently available policy-relevant knowledge - on land degradation and its drivers, and on the response measures for addressing them.
During the three days of the meeting, the CST Bureau met with the Panel of CSOs which also had its meeting in the UNCCD secretariat. During this dialogue with the CST Bureau, the CSO Panel confirmed itssupport to the SPI by identifying its representative as an observer to the SPI. The Panel will also support SPI by identifying scientific needs that will help land practitioners and policymakers prevent land degradation. 
Professor Uriel Safriel, the newly appointed CST Bureau Chair, said “We have a good grasp to start to think on how to really operate. During the meeting, the Bureau addressed the modalities of operating the new and innovative Science-Policy Interface, charged with the mission of making science effective in the policy-making process of the UNCCD.”  He believes this mission can be accomplished by “a structured flow of actions initiated by identifying needs for scientific support, selecting mechanisms for responding to the needs, operationalizing these mechanisms, and molding the emerging science results to bear on effective policy- and decision-making on issues relevant to UNCCD implementation.” 

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