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URPP Global Change and Biodiversity


Outcomes of the Initiative "Empowering Policy Relevance of our Research"

With the initiave, we (Sierra Deutsch, Roger Keller, Cornelia Krug and Annina Michel) aimed to strengthen the societal relevance of our research by fostering different pathways of science-policy-interfaces.

We found two major themes that emerged from the research. One, continued difficulties in finding a common "language", understanding and goals, and two, meaningful pluralisation of knowledge in transdisciplinary collaborations aimed at addressing global change and biodiversity loss.

As a solution, we propose to strengthen the demand and support for transdisciplinary transformative change initiatives (TTCIs) across institutions, and to account for vital functional elements for successful collaboration, and to develop critial social science (CSS) literacy tools. 

Two main outputs are available:

  • Summary of the outcomes, available as pdf (PDF, 490 KB)

  • Research article published in “Biodiversity and Conservation”
    Sierra Deutsch, Roger Keller, Cornelia Krug, Annina Michel. 2023. Transdisciplinary transformative change: An analysis of some best practices and barriers, and the potential of critical social science in getting us there,

We would like to thank all participants for their valuable insights and willingness to contribute to this work, and especially like to thank interviewees for taking the time to elaborate on their experiences and perspectives with us

Overview over science-policy-practice interfaces on international, national (Swiss) and subnational level



IPBES The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is an independent intergovernmental body established by States to strengthen the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, long-term human well-being and sustainable development. 
IPCC The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. 
Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment (GMBA) The Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment (GMBA) is a platform for international and cross-disciplinary collaboration on the assessment, conservation, and sustainable management of mountain biodiversity.
PAGES The PAGES (Past Global Changes) project is an international effort to coordinate and promote past global change research. The primary objective is to improve our understanding of past changes in the Earth system in order to improve projections of future climate and environment, and inform strategies for sustainability.
Global Land Programme (GLP) GLP is an interdisciplinary community of science and practice fostering the study of land systems and the co-design of solutions for global sustainability.
bioDISCOVERY bioDISCOVERY seeks to mobilise the scientific community to advance research on monitoring, observation and modelling of biodiversity and ecosystems in order to improve our understanding of how biodiversity and ecosystems respond to environmental change, and to overcome the barriers that impede the use of observations and modelling in management and decision-making.
Mountain Research Initiative

The Mountain Research Initiative (MRI) envisions a world in which research to identify and understand drivers and processes of global change in mountains is promoted and linked across disciplines and mountain regions worldwide. 

The MRI serves as a coordination network for research collaboration, bringing the global mountain research community together.

Biodiversa+ Biodiversa+ is the new European Biodiversity Partnership supporting excellent research on biodiversity with an impact for society and policy. It was jointly developed by BiodivERsA and the European Commission as part of the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030, and will contribute to the ambition that "by 2030, nature in Europe is back on a path of recovery, and that by 2050 people are living in harmony with Nature". 

National (Switzerland)

Forum Biodiversity 

The scientific competence center aims at supporting the research of biodiversity. It facilitates the co-operation of scientists and policy-makers in the administration department, in politics, economy and society. 

Forum Landscape, Alps, Parks (FoLAP) 

Acting as a national inter- and transdisciplinary network, the forum promotes knowledge and discourse about landscape and landscape-changing processes. It advocates sustainable design, development and safety concepts. The forum focuses on the Alps as well as parks and protected areas. 

Forum for Climate and Global Change (ProClim) 

The forum brings the latest scientific findings into the political and public discussion. It presents specific options for combating climate change in Switzerland. The topics of focus range from understanding climate change and reducing emissions to adapting to the consequences. 

Swiss Parks Network

Network of Swiss national and regional parks that form a community of values, their inhabitants are committed to nature and culture and support the local economy.
Network for Transdisciplinarity Research  The td-net links scientific communities, supports transdisciplinary careers and promotes the development of competencies and methods. 


Innosuisse is the Swiss Innovation Agency. Its role is to promote science-based innovation in the interest of the economy and society in Switzerland. 

Federal Office for the Environment 

The mission of the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) is to ensure the sustainable use of natural resources including soil, water, air, quietness and forests. It is responsible for the protection against natural hazards, safeguarding the environment and human health against excessive impacts, and conserving biodiversity and landscape quality. It is also responsible for international environmental policy. 

Conference of Nature and Landscape Conservation Officers (KBNL) (German and French only)

The Conference of Nature and Landscape Conservation Officers (KBNL) consists of the heads of the nature and landscape offices of all cantons in Switzerland and the office of the Principality of Liechtenstein. 

It promotes information, coordination and professional cooperation among its members and cantons. It is the competent contact for higher, political authorities and other interested parties for the subject areas of nature and landscape. 

The Franxini Project 

The Franxini Project helps scientists improve both their political and scientific competencies so they can more effectively contribute to shaping changes and institutions.  

Regional (Subnational)

UZH School for Transdisciplinary Studies 

The UZH School for Transdisciplinary Studies acts as a hub between the faculties and the UZH initiatives and is responsible for the placement and administration of the cross-thematic and cross-faculty courses. 

ETHZ Td-Lab 

The TdLab conceptualizes and tests educational and research approaches to tackle complexities of sustainable development. 

Centre for Sustainability Transitions (Stellenbosch – South Africa) 

The Stellenbosch Centre for Sustainability Transitions (CST) is a Stellenbosch University ‘flagship’ initiative established in 2015. 

This initiative brings together complexity thinking, sustainability science and transdisciplinary research methodology. 


Comments, questions or additions to this list? Please contact Cornelia Krug, Science-Policy Liaison of the URPP GCB.