Making Science Matter: A Blueprint for Informed Decision-Making

A Scientist's Guide to Influencing Decision-MakingHow can the ocean we value so highly, whether for the seafood we enjoy or for the beaches on which we relax, be under such tremendous pressure from our very own uses — over-harvesting, pollution and climate change?

This is the fundamental question 1,500 scientists and marine conservationists have come forward to address at the second annual International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC), which I’m currently attending in Victoria, Canada, with marine science colleagues from Conservation International. This conference offers a unique opportunity to share and learn from people’s experiences around the world, ranging from the establishment of a marine managed area in Fiji to a fishery buyout program in the Gulf of California.

Earlier this week, I shared with the conference the results of the global analysis that CI led, with 200 scientists contributing, of the biodiversity and human well-being benefits — including improved livelihoods and more resilient ecosystems — of Marine Managed Areas around the world. Our program experiences in Brazil, Fiji, Panama and Belize were highlighted. There was tremendous interest, as this study is one of the first demonstrations of how marine conservation can contribute to social development.

Ocean solutions based on sound science are recognized as critical to success. In fact, the conference theme is “making science matter.” This week, CI released a road map for how to do that: the Science-to-Action Guidebook. The Guidebook provides a road map with easy tips on how to use science to inform decision-making, drawing on the experiences of people around the world. We think this is an important step for scientists. Doing science and not sharing the results with the people who could most benefit from the insights (decision-makers) is like making a cake and eating it all by yourself! Clearly, others agreed, as our presence at IMCC resulted in many institutions expressing interest in joining our Science-to-Action network — which already includes 75 partners!

I look forward to seeing my colleagues around the world incorporate these concepts into their work — whether they are scientists in Fiji, NGO staff in Indonesia or fisheries department staff in Brazil. I hope the tips we offer in the Guidebook spark new partnerships between these different worlds to ensure informed ocean solutions.

Dr. Leah Bunce Karrer is author of the Science-to-Action Guidebook and Director of the Marine Science Program at CI.

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