Communicating science to policy: Parliamentary POSTnotes

The transfer of science from academia into policy is a challenge that is lamented at science and policy workshops, conferences, and meetings. In the UK we are actually improving this knowledge transfer process through joint science-policy working groups, co-production of papers and proposals, and formal knowledge exchange opportunities, such as the Defra and NERC fellowships that I hold. One of my favourite mechanisms for ensuring science is presented to policy-makers in a targeted and timely way is through the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology POSTnote series. POSTnotes are short, focused, scientific syntheses on a current or upcoming topic of policy importance. Each POSTnote is written and coordinated by a PhD student who speaks to 30-50 expert stakeholders, and thoroughly reviews the literature, to construct a short, 4-page briefing critically reviewing the state of the art of the subject, challenges and opportunities around the topic, and, future societal implications. POSTnotes are succinct enough to read quickly and so clearly written that the reader can easily understand the content, making them an effective tool to communicate science to decision-makers. In fact, I am such a fan that I even have my masters students write POSTnotes for one of their assessments!

I have recently contributed to my second POSTnote (the first was about UK Fisheries Management) and am really excited about the end product. This POSTnote, entitled Climate Change and Fisheries, was authored by James Stewart of University of Exeter and Dr Jonathan Wentworth (POST Environment Advisor), and examines the implications of climate change on UK fisheries. Some brief highlights include:

  • Climate change, including ocean acidification, is driving changes in fisheries habitats as well alterations to the distribution, abundance, and health of commercial fish
  • Climate change effects can be exacerbated by other human pressures, such as eutrophication and habitat loss
  • Fisheries will need to adapt to climate change, but this is challenging since the impacts of climate change on the fisheries themselves are not well understood
  • Achieving sustainable management of fisheries is key to preventing overfishing and ensuring healthy stocks

You can find out more about POSTnotes and how to get involved by following them on Twitter at @POST_UK.

Abigail, Plankton and Policy

About Abigail McQuatters-Gollop

Marine biologist, guitarist, cat lover, red wine drinker. I like plankton.
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