Strategic Research Agenda 2014 priority-setting workshop begins

The winnowing process: workshop attendees will sift through the long list of priorities to agree on a Strategic Research Agenda. Photo: Hadi Zaher via Flickr
An international multi-stakeholder workshop to examine the Strategic Research Agenda 2014 for Future Earth gets underway today.

The workshop is part of a collaborative consultation process to develop the Future Earth Strategic Research Agenda 2014 - a set of research priorities that will be co-designed with stakeholders from the funding, business and policy communities to help funders focus their resources.

Following an initial priority-setting exercise within the international global environmental change research community, an open online consultation in April/May 2014 drew over 500 responses from participants in 74 countries across the world.

View Location of online survey respondents in a full screen map

Responses were received from stakeholders across the broad community of researchers – including from the natural and social sciences, engineering and the humanities – as well as from the media, education, funding and policy communities. People taking part in the online survey had the chance to rate the priorities that already been suggested, and to suggest new priorities or challenges for research. In parallel, a wide-ranging review of other priority-setting exercises related to global change and sustainability has been undertaken to feed into the set of priority questions, or challenges for research.  

The 2-day workshop will bring together an international group of scientists and stakeholders, who will meet to discuss, vote on, and whittle-down the list of around 450 priority research questions that have resulted from the initial and online consultations. Participants at the workshop come from within the community of core projects joining Future Earth, from industry, funding bodies, and from the science-policy community. Members of the Future Earth Science Committee and interim Secretariat will also take part.

The priority challenges for strategic research resulting from this workshop will then be reviewed by the Future Earth Science and interim Engagement Committees, before being published in late September 2014.

This collaborative consultation process contributes to Future Earth’s vision of connecting research and responses to societal challenges. The Strategic Research Agenda 2014 will be co-designed by researchers and societal stakeholders, in order to close the gap between environmental research and policies and practices and to deliver a step-change in making research more useful and accessible for decision makers.

The process of developing the Strategic Research Agenda 2014 follows a methodology developed by William Sutherland et al. (2012) to collaboratively identify research priorities. The Sutherland method aims to engage policy makers and other societal stakeholders with the process of setting priorities for scientific research in order to facilitate science-policy dialogue. In a recent article on the Future Earth blog, Jon Turney looks at examples of the Sutherland process in action, including in palaeoecology and conservation.

The workshop is co-sponsored by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan (MEXT), the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, Japan (RIHN), Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), and the Center for Sustainability Science, Taipei, China.