Close cooperation between BioAgora and the European Union
BioAgora develops the Science Service for Biodiversity (SSBD), for it to become the scientific pillar of the Knowledge Centre for Biodiversity (KCBD). The KCBD was established by the European Commission in 2020, in the framework of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030. This Strategy also referred to the Horizon Europe Programme’s call for ‘a science policy mechanism for research-based options for ratcheting up the implementation of biodiversity commitments’. The development of the SSBD is thus a direct response to a European policy objective.
This policy response therefore requires close cooperation between the – largely scientific – BioAgora community and the European Union. However, the EU is large and has a complex governance structure. For BioAgora, it is important to liaise with those components of the EU that are of most relevance to the process of co-creating the SSBD.
Key players in the science-policy interface for EU biodiversity
The implementation of the European Green Deal, the EU Biodiversity Strategy, the Horizon Programme (that is funding BioAgora) and the KCBD is managed by the European Commission (EC). Therefore, the primary cooperating partners for BioAgora are to be found within the EC; more precisely it concerns the Directorates-General for Environment (DG ENV), for Research and Innovation (DG RTD), and Joint Research Centre (hosting the KCBD).
EU institutions closely related to these DGs, and of essential importance to also link up to, include the European Environment Agency (EEA) and executive agencies for research (REA) and environment (CINEA), as well as Biodiversa+ (the European Biodiversity Partnership supporting excellent research on biodiversity with an impact for society and policy, also set up in the frame of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030) and NetworkNature.
These are only some of the many pieces in the jigsaw puzzle of the science-policy interface (SPI) for EU biodiversity. Importantly, the governance structure for EU biodiversity policy – and knowledge management – is currently under revision, to better align with the implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy as well as the Global Biodiversity Framework, adopted in the framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity last autumn.
Ensuring the involvement of BioAgora in EU policy
In order to keep the connections between the BioAgora community and the EU manageable, in this initial project stage the most intense cooperation is with representatives of DG ENV, DG RTD and JRC. The BioAgora team holds monthly online meetings to discuss progress and issues, as well as regular hybrid meetings for more in-depth discussions to manage expectations and create clarity. The latest hybrid meeting was on 25 May at DG ENV in Brussels, where we discussed the position of the future SSBD within the complex biodiversity SPI landscape, more specifically with regard to the KCBD. Directly related to this discussion, we held first exchanges about the consequences of deciding functions and position of the SSBD for the development of its business plan and web platform, also key elements of the BioAgora work plan.
A concrete step in ensuring direct involvement of BioAgora in EU policy, as long as the SSBD is not active, is its inclusion as an observer in the EU Biodiversity Platform (EUBP). The EUBP was set up in 2022 (succeeding the previous EU Coordination Group on Biodiversity and Nature) to provide advice to the EC, and foster cooperation for the coherent implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, the EU Birds Directive and Habitats Directive and other EU policy and legislation on biodiversity. Members of the EUBP are Member States’ authorities, organisations and other public entities.. In addition, organisations and public entities other than Member States’ authorities may be granted an observer status by direct invitation..
As an observer, BioAgora participates in the plenary EUBP meetings, and also in the currently eight sub-groups, covering specific themes such as pollinators, marine issues, and monitoring and assessment. Through this participation, BioAgora avails of a channel to directly contribute research-based knowledge to the discussion and to receive first-hand information on policy developments. It will also help develop the EUBP work plan, identify knowledge needs, and support horizon scanning.
BioAgora’s External Researchers and Stakeholders Network
A further concrete step is the development by BioAgora of a Researchers and Stakeholders Network, in close cooperation with other European projects and initiatives. This will help orchestrate and channel the future research input into the EUBP and other elements of the EU ‘comitology’, and the KCBD, a key aim of the SSBD.
Although BioAgora is still in an early stage of development, very close links and an open cooperation have been established with the key players within the EU. This will help ensure that the final product, the SSBD and all of its envisaged functions, will truly support the transformative change for biodiversity conservation and restoration, as called for in the European Green Deal and EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030.