Using research-based knowledge to underpin waste and resources policy

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The concept of a knowledge-based approach to policy making (also referred to as ‘evidence-based policy making’ or ‘science meets policy’) has been around for 10 years, and is widely ‘signed up to’ by Governments. This paper examines the theory and the practice at national government (using the UK as a case study) and European levels, looking at how the knowledge- based approach has been applied in waste and resources management. There is general agreement that a knowledge- (or evidence-) based approach to policy making is a ‘good thing’; however putting the concept into practice has proven challenging and is still evolving.

The linkages between researchers and policy makers need to be further strengthened, as does the ‘demand’ for evidence from policy; requiring policy specialists to articulate their requirements for evidence sufficientlywell in advance, and to do so routinely, is still an area of weakness. Using a model developed by the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), we examine in detail some of the implications of changing the question from ‘is this good research on waste and resources issues?’ to ‘is this good evidence for waste and resources policy?’.

The paper also provides recommendations for further work required to achieve this at a European level, and for priority
areas where international co-ordination of waste and resources research could add most value to policy.

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