Linking Water Science to Policy: Results from a Series of National Workshops on Water
To ensure science better informs the decision-making process, researchers and policy/program managers need to understand and respect each other's way of working, culture and operational timelines. However, there is little practical guidance on how this should be done and even less documented experience with specific mechanisms that better link these two groups. The published literature on information transfer has largely emphasized the dissemination of standard packages of information to ill-defined constituencies whose needs for scientific information are not well understood. Environment Canada's National Water Research Institute, on behalf of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, led a series of “Linking Water Science to Policy Workshops” as one such mechanism by which recent science could be delivered to practitioners, and practitioners could identify their research needs to scientists and research managers. There is a pressing need to explore and share experiences using creative mechanisms for sustained dialogue and networking between scientists and policy and program managers. The lessons learned from the workshop series and the need for science to continually inform the decision-making process has particular relevance for Canada's Ecosystem Initiatives given their integrated, place-based focus on long-term restoration and protection, and the challenge of continually changing ecosystems.