Successful adaptation to environmental change requires a theoretical and practical understanding of coupled natural-human systems as well as advances in bridging scientific and local knowledge to ensure the maximum impact of management and restoration actions. Only through active stakeholder participation can those that need the knowledge readily put it to use when it is most relevant: as part of environmental planning, project implementation, and monitoring and assessment. Although the Earth and social sciences have provided valuable integrative frameworks (e.g., ecosystem services), models, indicators, datasets and assessment tools, efforts to translate science into sustainable land use and management can be significantly enhanced through holistic assessments and comprehensive and representative stakeholder participation. The facilitation and translation of information and meanings among stakeholders can lead to the co-production of knowledge, more informed decision making, and in a very pragmatic way, more effective use of scientific discovery. It is increasingly recognized that sustainable land management (SLM) strategies can reduce the risks associated with climate change, land degradation/desertification, and biodiversity loss. Nevertheless, the design of most effective sustainable adaptation and mitigation strategies requires knowledge of their multiple impacts on ecosystem services and food security across scales, under present and future climatic conditions, and strategies are only viable if suited to local environmental, socio-economic and cultural conditions. The challenge of enhancing the impact of science for the benefit of society and the environment is felt at all scales, and is now recognized at the global scale, where land-based adaptation and sustainable land management may provide a point of synergy in jointly implementing the three United Nations “Rio” Conventions: land degradation, desertification and drought (UNCCD), biodiversity (CBD) and climate change (UNFCCC).
This session has two synergistic aims. First, we hope to showcase successful examples of how participatory, stakeholder-engagement based approaches to knowledge construction and exchange significantly enhance the broader impact of science on promoting adaptation to environmental change, successfully dealing with challenges for acceptance and implementation of tailor-made solutions. In this way the session will emphasize scientific integration (biophysical and social), the evolving translational science paradigm, as well as stakeholder interaction. Second, we will explore the science that should underpin the development of best practices in adaptation, so that policy makers can devise effective land-based solutions to the challenges of environmental change, based on robust science accounting for multiple impacts and tradeoffs. In this way this session will highlight state-of-the-art methods while simultaneously identifying existing knowledge and new methods that can be utilized to quantify the value of SLM practices and of participatory approaches to SLM, as well as knowledge gaps that need to be overcome through new targeted research. An added benefit of this session is the contribution of researchers and practitioners who have demonstrated success in the field alongside scientists who are members of the recently established Science-Policy Interface (SPI)* of the UNCCD responsible for “translating” this success for use in the global policy-making realm. The session will therefore contribute to the upscaling of evidence from the field and the outputs will support the work of the SPI members on providing scientific evidence to the UNCCD Committee on Science and Technology.
*For more on the SPI see: www.unccd.int/en/programmes/Science/International-Scientific-Advice/Pages/SPI.aspx?HighlightID=282