The evaluation stage of an assessment begins by nominating authors to write specific chapters of the technical report. They will bring together and analyse data, knowledge and information on biodiversity and ecosystem services. The outcome of this, is critical synthesis of knowledge addressing the key policy questions identified in the scoping stage.
Engaging policymakers and practitioners in the review of each draft of the technical report can help ensure its policy relevance. The credibility and legitimacy of the assessment relies on wide stakeholder consultation and the consideration of different knowledge systems including indigenous and local knowledge.
The national ecosystem assessment process can provide a platform for engagement between diverse knowledge holders to reach the best available knowledge on biodiversity and ecosystems.
Indicators may be used to communicate a range of information such as ecosystem condition, rates of species loss, supply of a particular ecosystem service, among others.
Elements of an assessment
- Status & trends – assessment of priority ecosystems and their services, as well as the associated drivers of change
- Scenarios – development of descriptive story lines to illustrate the consequences of plausible changes in drivers, ecosystems and their services, policies, as well as their impact human well-being
- Valuation – of ecosystem services in monetary and non-monetary terms and examining present and future delivery of services
- Response options – examining past and current actions that have been taken to secure/enhance contribution of biodiversity to human well-being
Securing political support for an assessment
To support the credibility, legitimacy and relevance of its outputs, the assessment process should aim to:
- Define clear, policy-relevant questions
- Ensure the assessment is demand-driven
- Identify and involve key sectors and stakeholders
- Fit the assessment to national priorities & institutional concerns
- Translate assessment’s findings to policy-relevant information
- Continuously engage decision-makers and key stakeholders to maintain their interest and ownership of the assessment
Outputs of the evaluation stage
The evaluation stage will produce a number of key outputs, including a technical report and summary for policymakers (SPM).
The technical report is the collection of the final chapters produced by the authors of the assessment. It is developed through an iterative process which entails the preparation and review of a number of successive report drafts.
The technical report will include information on the status and trends of different components of biodiversity, ecosystem services, drivers of change, scenarios and plausible pathways, different values, and policy or response options. All of this information is contextualised around the key policy questions in the report.
In the process of undertaking an assessment, knowledge gaps are identified. Knowing what is not known is as important as understanding what is known. The technical report will also highlight gaps in data, information and knowledge, which can be useful in informing future research agendas and monitoring requirements.
Summary for Policymakers (SPM)
The summary for policymakers (SPM) is a short and concise document which pulls together the key findings of the technical report into policy-relevant key messages. This summary aims to address the key policy questions identified as main focus of the assessment during the scoping stage.
National biodiversity platform
One of the long-lasting components of the assessment process is the national biodiversity platform. This can be established anew by the assessment process, or can build upon an existing platform as needed.
The national biodiversity platform encourages engagement between practitioners, policymakers, diverse knowledge holders and stakeholders. It supports the assessment process and provides ongoing communities of practice at the intersection of science and policy, which can assist decision-making processes.