In a process every bit as important as the actual putting of methods into practice, scientists and experts gathered at a recent STAGES (Science and Technology Advancing Governance on Good Environmental Status) project workshop in Ispra, Italy, 9-11 October, to assist in threading the net of required analytical research and gaps in knowledge that will support the science behind the EU's Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).
Identification of research needs with regard to socio-economic analysis (in relation with the two MSFD human constructs: environmental targets & programmes of measures, co-organized by ICES and related to STAGES work package 3 on knowledge gaps for bolstering MSFD science, was the third of three project workshops, and the focus was on picking the much-needed research that takes its roots in economic, social, cultural and natural trends. This socio-economic field is a growing one both for the MSFD and in wider European marine science.
Amongst the more pressing needs identified included understanding ecosystem services – i.e, any direct or indirect benefit the ecosystem can offer humankind, from food and fresh water to climate regulation and even the opportunity for intellectual development – in relation to those who gain from them as well as studies on the social perceptions of ecosystem services and factoring in of consumer behaviour to developing social indicators.
"Looking closely at social costs and benefits attributed to individual consequences of pressures on marine environments will allow member states and the Regional Sea Commissions to suggest the most efficient intervention options under the programmes of measures to be launched in 2015," said workshop chair and ICES Professional Projects Coordinator Wojciech Wawrzynski. "Assessing distribution of the DPSWR (description/pressure/state/welfare/response) scheme social welfare is a useful approach to socio-economic analysis as it clearly highlights the costs and benefits associated with changes in the health of marine environment."
The MSFD's aim is Good Environmental Status (GES) in EU marine waters by 2020, meaning healthy, productive and ecologically diverse seas and ecosystems. Bridging science-policy gaps associated with the MSFD comes on top of the scientific research remit for STAGES.
The socio-economic analysis meeting, as the previous two, produced a list of priority research needs which will be handed in to the Commission's DG Environment. EU member states, each to take protective measures as part of the agreement, also discussed information collection methods at the EC FP7-funded STAGES in light of expected different national approaches to what data to collect and from where.
The workshop report will form the basis of the STAGES science-policy report and will be available on the stagesproject.eu website soon.
© Ben Goode - Fotolia