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UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy


Applied in Focus. Global in Reach


Archive for the 'Public Policy Processes and Knowledge Systems' Category

The best intergovernmental platform that you’ve never heard of… until now

By c.washbourne, on 7 May 2019

Last week saw hundreds of people gather in Paris for what some have described as the ‘IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) for nature’.

The ‘Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services’, or IPBES to its friends, works to produce knowledge on the state of nature and to support the development of skills and capacity to promote its sustainable use. As an independent, intergovernmental body, IPBES spends much of its time building the policy case for biodiversity and ecosystem services; helping policy-makers to make more informed decisions for a sustainable future.

So why, might you ask, have you never heard anything about IPBES? Good question!

I was privileged to attended the most recent plenary meeting of the platform ‘IPBES-7’, which took place last week in Paris, as part of the delegation of the Young Ecosystem Services Specialists (YESS), and can offer a few possible answers.


Perspectives on the STEaPP Internship: Public policy processes and knowledge systems

By ucqnafe, on 17 July 2017

alessandro-allegra-smallSTEaPP Intern Alessandro Allegra takes stock two-thirds of the way into his internship working on research project Public policy processes and knowledge systems.

I have been working on a project with Dr Chris Tyler and Dr Adam Cooper to investigate public policy processes and knowledge systems. The first thing I had to do for the project was figure out what exactly we mean by a ‘policy process’. This was not just because of my ignorance, but because it turns out that, although there are no shortage of definitions and diagrams out there describing the policy process, it turns out that they often have very little resemblance with happens in the corridors of Whitehall.

By surveying the existing literature, analysing the paper trail behind some specific policy initiatives, and talking to people who have been involved in government policy in various roles, I have started building a more nuanced picture. Rather than a neat and orderly cycle of well-distinguished stages, the process seems to be more composed of phases that blend into each other, often with iterations and feedback loops, where the boundaries can only be drawn retrospectively through post-hoc rationalisation.

This more nuanced understanding of what happens at the coalface of policymaking is so far the greatest lesson that I have learned during my time at STEaPP, and has several implications for how we understand the role of scientific knowledge in it. The next step of the project will be bringing these insights together into a coherent model, and validate it though discussion with practitioners. This will then allow to ask questions about the use for evidence in policy from a different perspective, such as for example what pressures and constraints civil servants encounter in their daily policy work, what activities and cognitive processes they engage with, and how vulnerable the whole process is to individual cognitive biases we are inevitably victim of.

STEaPP Research Internships 2018

To find out about details of our internship programme for 2018, visit the internship webpages.