Bridging the Gap between EU scientists and policy-makers
Improving environmental policies requires reliable and timely information on the environment. Professor Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency, explained at the Bridging the Gap Conference in Slovenia, how the Shared Environmental Information System (SEIS) will help turn scientific data into policy-relevant information.
'Environmental information is currently collected by a multitude of organisations using techniques ranging from satellite observation from space to volunteers knee-deep in mud collecting water samples for laboratory analysis', said Professor McGlade. 'At the moment, we are not reaping the full benefits of all these data already available, because we cannot access them all.'
SEIS will connect the existing environmental information systems in Europe. With SEIS, users will at all times be able to access the best and the most recent information available on the environment and carry out geographical comparisons. Greater accessibility will enable policy-makers to formulate better policies and even design policies addressing regional particularities.
SEIS will also ensure that the data will only be collected once, preventing double work. Moreover, having all the data and information readily available will make it easier for authorities to fulfil their reporting obligations. Electronic reporting through SEIS will reduce the administrative burden, both on EU Member States and EU institutions.
Bridging the Gap: Responding to Environmental Change — from Words to Deeds
The Bridging the Gap conferences aim to provide insights for closing the gaps in the chain from science to policy, or more broadly, from knowledge to action. The Bridging the Gap 2008 Conference, being held on 14–16 May 2008 in Portorož, Slovenia, focuses on the need for urgent action, the environment at the heart of economic decision-making; and communication between scientists, policy-makers, politicians, business and civil society. These issues will be discussed through the following themes:
Information-gathering and -sharing
Energy and the environment
Sustainable consumption and production
Adaptation to climate change
Biodiversity and ecosystem services
While the conferences are strongly led by host countries, the EEA has acted as an initiator and main player in all four Bridging the Gap conferences so far.