Environmental research constantly yields new knowledge on how human beings can influence or protect the environment. Nonetheless, research findings are not always applied in practical environmental management and policy. This insight prompted the creation of EviEM in January 2012.
EviEM carries out systematic reviews of a range of environmental issues to improve Swedish environmental policy making. EviEM’s mission is the first of its kind in Sweden. In other parts of the world, too, it is only in the past few years that systematic reviews have begun to be used in environmental management.
The purpose of a systematic review is to sum up the best available research on a specific question. This is done by synthesizing the results of several existing studies. For a systematic review to be worthwhile it should focus on an issue where sufficient numbers of studies exist on the topic to provide a broad knowledge base, but where there is a need for a reliable consensus; for example where studies seemingly contradict one another or where environmental management choices need a clear evidence base.
Many stakeholders in the field of environmental management would like assessments of entire problem areas (such as x or y), but these are often too broad and the volume of research too large to allow systematic summaries and detailed overviews of all available research results. In order to review these topics in a meaningful way it is necessary to break the concerns down into specific questions of interest.
The reviews aim to clarify the ways in which various kinds of environmental management measures achieve desired effects, explore the repercussions of specific environmental impacts or describe the extent to which changes in the natural environment are due to human influence.
EviEM examines and reports on the scientific basis for such issues, but does not prescribe how the results should be used. Instead, EviEM ensures that all the reviews have clearly defined target groups, such as public agencies or other decision-makers in the environmental sector. It is usually these recipients, too, that suggest subjects for the reviews. The plan is that they should be able to put the results to use in recommendations and guidelines for practical environmental management.
During 2016 EviEM will launch four systematic reviews:
- How effective are wetlands for nitrogen and phosphorus removal?
- How does farming affect the organic carbon content of arable soils?
- Have the phase-outs of PFASs affected concentrations in the environment?
- How is biodiversity influenced by the management of forest set-asides?
In August EviEM will host the first international Collaboration for Environmental Evidence (CEE) conference, in Stockholm.