Request > Incorporating nature’s diverse values in policy

Discussing how diverse values of nature could be integrated into public policy

Requester: ClientEarth

Type of request: Societal engagement

Nature’s values by definition heavily relate to beliefs and value systems rather than relying on purely scientific knowledge to decide what should be prioritized or highlighted in policy. For this request, it was considered important to use societal engagement through a series of Science cafés and  bring out the plurality of perspectives on the issue. We aimed to do this by inviting expert panelists who represented different aspects of the topic and by opening the conversation to the wider public and society, making it possible for anyone to voice their thoughts on the values of nature.

Reference: Request CfR.1/2016/5

  • Anikó Kovács-Hostyánszky (ecologist)
  • Zoltán Szabó (environmental economist)
  • Farkas Judit (cultural anthropologist)
  • Bálint Halpern (NGO representative, nature conservation expert)
  • Zsolt Molnár (ethno-ecologist)
  • Ágnes Kalóczkai (agri-environmental engineer)
Contact points

KCB Focal Point: Eeva Furman
EMB contact point: Riikka Paloniemi and Liisa Varumo

Final outputs

Final report: file.23.05.2018
Video 1st Science café: link .11.09.2017
Video 2nd Science café: link .29.09.2017

Based on our synthesis of the discourses, we make two concluding answers to the question. In order to incorporate diverse values of nature we need more meaningful communication as well as a transdisciplinary and inclusive approach.

The original request highlighted the need to create clear pathways of modes of action for policy. Throughout our discussions the inclusion and relative power of the general public were also brought up indicating a need to shed light on the mechanisms of public participation at EU and national scales in various steps of decision-making in order to democratize and add transparency to planning and decision-making processes.

The many of the issues discussed also relate to the question of how to evaluate which of nature’s values are prioritised in decision-making. Even though some might disagree with which values are prioritised, making more transparent the reasoning behind chosen values and options represented by research and policy could help people accept and understand choices better and perhaps learn to advocate for their own ideas differently in the future.

There is a knowledge gap in how diverse values of various actors and sectors can influence policy, especially policy that is concerned with biodiversity issues (Barton et al., 2017). The way in which people talk and experience nature is seemingly not reflected well in the way biodiversity policy is funded or prioritized (Pascual et al. 2017). Thus, intrinsic, economic, social, cultural, relational and eudaimonic values that nature holds need to be translated into biodiversity policy more efficiently to halt biodiversity loss and improve the wellbeing of our natural world, including humans.

  • Date request received: 30/09/2016

This request was received from ClientEarth in September 2016. ClienEarth is a non-profit environmental law organisation committed to securing a healthy planet by using environmental law to protect oceans, forests, other habitats, and all people.

Scoping phase

As part of the Eklipse request, process-specific knowledge and evidence were explored and scoped with the Eklipse team and the requester to find the appropriate framings and methods to answer them. After scoping with the requester, Eklipse proposed that a societal engagement approach would be most appropriate in this case. This type of approach could encourage public dialogue on the topic to identify which types of actors, dialogue, and possible tensions, disagreement, agreement, and arguments existed around integrating diverse values in Europe.

During the scoping phase, two main factors were identified limiting why policy does not reflect diverse values:

1) A strong emphasis on economic values in policy-making.

2) Capturing diverse values does not in itself change policy. The existence of knowledge about the diversity of values is important, but its real value lies in improving and informing biodiversity policy. Pathways and responses to achieve desired actions and results need to be identified for policymakers.

Regarding these two factors, Eklipse organised in Autumn 2017 three science cafés exploring, deliberating and answering the question “How can nature’s diverse values be incorporated into and reflected by public policy?”

Science cafes are public events inviting citizens and scientists to discuss science and technology. Science cafes aim to encourage citizens, researchers and policymakers to dialogue with each other to improve policy and management processes related to the governance of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Answering the request

Three science cafés were organised to approach the request from slightly different angles and scales and use different participation methods: face-to-face, online or a mix of both. 


1st Science Café – Diversity of nature’s values – Budapest, face-to-face

The first science café was held on September 11th in Budapest, Hungary, in the Mantra Specialty Coffee Bar.

The aim of this science café was to show the diversity and incommensurability of different values of nature and ecosystem services and to initiate a public dialogue about this diversity. 

 The panelists were: 

  • Anikó Kovács-Hostyánszky (ecologist)
  • Zoltán Szabó (environmental economist)
  • Farkas Judit (cultural anthropologist)  

Each of the speakers presented their ideas on the topic, and then the public was invited to present questions and take part in the discussion. The conversation quickly focused on concrete examples of where and how different ecological, social and economic values of nature are present covering topics related to bees, eco-villagers and the role of business in dealing with diverse values.

Watch some highlights of the discussion and feedback from the panellists here (Hungarian with English subtitles). 


2nd Science Café – Integrating diverse values of nature into decision making – Budapest, face-to-face and online.

 This session was held on September 29th 2017, in Budapest. It was organised as a side event of European Researcher’s Night and was a mix of face-to-face at Impact Hub Budapest and online using the Zoom webinar tool.

The aim was to discuss policy integration and uptake of the diverse and plural values, with a special focus on real-life applications. 

The panellists were: 

  • Bálint Halpern (NGO representative, nature conservation expert)
  • Zsolt Molnár (ethno-ecologist)
  • Ágnes Kalóczkai (agri-environmental engineer)

Watch this short video [here] of the second science café (Hungarian with English subtitles) video.


3rd Science Café – Integrating various values of nature in policy-making-  online

The concluding event on the values request was an EU-wide science café on November 20th 2017, via Zoom.  

This final event partially built on the previous cafes and aimed to especially scale the discussion to the EU level. The focus of the discussion was on finding solutions to existing disagreements and barriers for harmonised integration of diverse values into decision making in Europe. 

 The four panellists: Maurice Hoffmann, Jouni Nissinen, Eszter Kelemen and Marina von Weissenberg, tackled the topic from the perspectives of research, policy and civil society. With the help of a very active online audience, the discussion was further enriched by questions and perspectives brought out through the audience polls.

The cafe was built around three specific topics related to integrating values.

  • Channels of information when developing and communicating different values.
  • Types of arguments relevant for influencing policy on nature values 
  • Trans-disciplinarity, overarching concepts like Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and citizen inclusion as ways of bridging the gaps between different actors and perspectives on values.

In May 2018, a final report was finalised and published.