Sustainable management of natural resources in agriculture is a goal shared by all nations. Achieving this goal may require a great number of changes in the way natural resources are allocated, utilised and regulated. Both science and public policy have key roles in enhancing the sustainability of natural resource use. The greater the degree of cooperation between the two, the better the prospects that suitable solutions to resource management challenges will be found. In practice, however, natural resource researchers and policy makers rarely speak the same language and they communicate only rarely. Forging an effective and efficient interface between resource management research and policy makers is a difficult task, but the returns to bringing these partners together in the quest for sustainable development is very high indeed.
The International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR) and the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) have long recognised the need for close links between technical “practitioners” and the policy community. Supported by the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, the two institutions joined in implementing a project to identify best practices in closing the loop between research on natural resources and policy change in the developing world.
In November 1997, ECDPM and ISNAR hosted an expert consultation that brought together the experiences of policy makers, donor agencies and non-governmental organisations in bridging the gap between science and resource management change. The results of this meeting make up this report.
As the proceedings demonstrate, a solid interface between resource management research and public policy making can be forged, and there are many ways to do this. Those seeking ways to bridge these gaps will find much of interest in this volume.
From the perspectives of our organisations as centres focused on policy management and research capacity building, it is clear that innovative ways to bridge the gap between research and policy change are developing all the time. We trust that capturing and sharing such lessons can inspire the evolution of new and improved institutional arrangements for managing natural resources, and more effective policy making.Stein W. Bie
Director General, ISNARLouk de la Rive Box