INBO Research Challenges

Nature, policy and governance

Biodiversity loss, climate change and the crossing of planetary boundaries threatens human well-being and prosperity. Policy and governance are essential levers for responding to these challenges and achieving local, regional and international goals. Policy and governance create the necessary frameworks and institutions for nature protection, sustainable management, access to and use of nature, and development of new nature, often in combination with other land uses (e.g. recreation, agriculture, housing).

In Flanders, land pressure is high. As a result, a large number of stakeholder needs and demands overlap in relatively small spaces. These needs are represented into a large number of policy domains, each with their own objectives and instruments (e.g. nature legislation, erosion, water and soil quality). A lack of coordination and integration at landscape level leads to conflicting objectives and inefficient use of resources. Policies in one sector can unintentionally undermine the objectives of another.

Besides striving for more integrated and coherent policies, societal support for policies is also essential. To design and manage open spaces in equitable and sustainable ways, it is necessary to understand and integrate different perspectives and involve different stakeholders in policy-making and decision-making processes. The way policies are designed, implemented and evaluated has a major impact on equity and effectiveness.  

Therefore, INBO is committed to improve research about:

  1. the effectiveness of policies in addressing pressing societal challenges, e.g. climate change and biodiversity loss;
  2. the complexity of the policy landscape and its different interests, power divisions and value patterns;
  3. the development of innovative policy instruments and governance forms;
  4. the coherence of existing instruments and decision-making processes in addressing environmental problems.

INBO emphasises continuous reflection and evaluation of policies to enable adaptive management, governance and policies. This allows strategies, policy instruments and processes to be adapted based on results from practice.


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