Stakeholder Advisory Group update
Published: 27 July 2016
A core element of any research programme is ensuring that the results of the work are utilised beyond the scientific community – what is most commonly referred to as achieving ‘impact’. This is especially the case for programmes such as the Marine Ecosystems Research Programme, which is addressing issues of fundamental importance to stakeholders such as understanding drivers of change in the marine environment, interactions between trophic levels, impacts on ecosystem services and using models to predict outcomes of management scenarios. The MERP Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) was therefore established to advise the Programme Steering Committee on how to maximise the impact of this work and facilitate dialogue between scientists and users. The SAG includes representatives from government organisations, NGOs, intergovernmental-agencies, industry bodies and marine associations who are all keen to realise the exciting potential of this work to inform work undertaken in the industry and the policy arena.
The first decision of the SAG was for maximum engagement at the early stages of the programme. Too often science programmes have developed independently with impact and outcomes from the work only being considered at the latter stages. The SAG however provided MERP scientists with a prioritised list of policy issues at the start of the programme enabling them to consider these issues whilst undertaking research, building and populating the databases and developing modelling tools. The SAG also stressed the importance of achieving impact by focusing the specific identified issues rather than trying to just ‘inform policy’ in a general way. A number of face-to-face meetings have been held to facilitate constructive dialogue on aspects of the programme such as supplying outputs in user-friendly formats. It has also been useful for the SAG to hear from the scientists in order to understand what is realistically achievable in terms of the programme: this prevents unrealistic expectations amongst stakeholders as to what issues can be addressed.
The scientific research being carried out by MERP has the potential to make a major contribution to the sustainable management of UK seas. The SAG will therefore continue to engage with MERP on a regular basis and look forward to a fruitful collaboration.
For information on the SAG members please visit the Stakeholder Advisory Group page.