Submitted by guest blogger on Fri,08/09/2013

By Dr James Dalton, Coordinator, Global Initiatives, IUCN Water Programme.

Well, it’s an easy question to answer – we need both. But what sort of blend do we need? Over the last few weeks I have been surprised and, I’ll admit, a little exasperated over some things – maybe it’s the heat and the noise in our office at the moment (we have new windows being installed).

I recently heard that there is general ‘scientific regression and we are subject to dogma-driven societal decisions’ – specifically about the role of science in the world IUCN operates in. Hmm…..isn’t that democracy – are we not all guilty of a little dogma-driven belief at some point? The earth was flat once, after all. Regression – I would argue that there are more and more science networks, partnerships and funding around than ever before, and more and more information and data. We maybe don’t make the best use of it, because we don’t know how to – yet. Or we don’t communicate it well enough. This is a common problem.

In a past life I dealt with research contracts for the UK Government. One of the main challenges we had was getting the uptake pathway right to put research into use. It would appear to still be a challenge. It’s not easy – there is no silver bullet. What we found is that researchers – those doing the science, are not necessarily the right people to articulate and communicate it. As Ryan Meyer writes in his excellent article in Nature, ‘decision makers do not read journals’.

Knowledge to action. Discussing the needs of different water users in the Tacana watershed of Central America. Photo By James DaltonI remember sitting in a

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