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A Transparent Process for "Evidence-Informed" Policy Making

  • Lynn V. Dicks
  • Ian Hodge
  • Nicola P. Randall
  • Joern P. W. Scharlemann
  • Gavin M. Siriwardena
  • Henrik Smith
  • Rebecca K. Smith
  • William J. Sutherland
Publishing year: 2014
Language: English
Pages: 119-125
Publication/Series: Conservation Letters
Volume: 7
Issue: 2
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

Abstract english

Political institutions are keen to use the best available scientific knowledge in decision-making. For environmental policy, relevant scientific evidence can be complex and extensive, so expert judgment is frequently relied upon, without clear links to the evidence itself. We propose a new transparent process for incorporating research evidence into policy decisions, involving independent synopsis of evidence relating to all possible policy options combined with expert evaluation of what the evidence means for specific policy questions. We illustrate the process using reforms of the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy currently being negotiated. Under the reform proposals, 30% of direct payments to farmers will become conditional upon three "compulsory greening measures." Independently, we compiled and evaluated experimental evidence for the effects of 85 interventions to protect wildlife on northern European farmland, 12 of which correspond to aspects of the compulsory greening measures. Our evaluation clearly indicates evidence of consistent wildlife benefits for some, but not all, of the greening measures. The process of evidence synopsis with expert evaluation has three advantages over existing efforts to incorporate evidence into policy decisions: it provides a clear evidence audit trail, allows rapid response to new policy contexts, and clarifies sources of uncertainty.


  • Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
  • CAP reform
  • scientific assessment
  • Europe
  • evidence-based conservation
  • Agriculture


  • BECC
  • ISSN: 1755-263X
Henrik Smith
E-mail: henrik [dot] smith [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se



+46 46 222 93 79

+46 70 978 20 56




Centre for Environmental and Climate Research (CEC)

+46 46 222 93 79

+46 70 978 20 56


Sölvegatan 37, Lund


Centre for Animal Movement Research
Evolutionary Ecology, Department of Biology
Ecology building S-223 62 Lund Sweden