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Policy windows for the environment: Tips for improving the uptake of scientific knowledge

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Rose, DC 
Mukherjee, Nibedita  ORCID logo
Simmons, BI 
Tew, ER 
Robertson, RJ 


Scientific knowledge is considered to be an important factor (alongside others) in environmental policy-making. However, the opportunity for environmentalists to influence policy can often occur within short, discrete time windows. Therefore, a piece of research may have a negligible or transformative policy influence depending on when it is presented. These ‘policy windows’ are sometimes predictable, such as those dealing with conventions or legislation with a defined renewal period, but are often hard to anticipate. We describe four ways that environmentalists can respond to policy windows and increase the likelihood of knowledge uptake: 1) foresee (and create) emergent windows, 2) respond quickly to opening windows, 3) frame research in line with appropriate windows, and 4) persevere in closed windows. These categories are closely linked; efforts to enhance the incorporation of scientific knowledge into policy need to harness mechanisms within each. We illustrate the main points with reference to nature conservation, but the principles apply widely.



Evidence-based conservation, Evidence-based policy, Evidence-informed policy, Horizon scanning, Policy windows, Science-policy interface

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Environmental Science and Policy

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Elsevier BV
European Commission (308454)
NERC (NE/M010287/1)
NERC (1653183)
NERC (NE/L002507/1)
NERC (1653183)
Natural Environment Research Council (1653087)
(1) EU’s Seventh Framework Programme within the EU Biodiversity Observation Network (No. 308454) (2) Post-doctoral fellowship from Fondation Wiener Anspach, Belgium and the Scriven fellowship, (3) Cambridge Earth System Science NERC DTP [NE/L002507/1], (4) Austrian Science Fund (FWF), (5) Arcadia.