FINAL REFLECTIONS ON OUR ESPA PROJECT
By co-managers Dr Yvonne Erasmus and Dr Laurenz Langer
Our year-long #ACE_ESPA project has now officially come to an end. It has been an exciting and challenging year of work, and we’re very grateful to have been able to engage with a new body of evidence. This is our final blog post as part of our project, and as we look back over the year (and forward to the next), we reflect on three things: what we have achieved, what we have learned, and what we are excited about.
What have we achieved?
- Project outputs
As part of this project, we’ve produced an interactive evidence map, two thematic rapid evidence assessments, one rapid evidence assessment on tools to support environmental decision-makers, and one rapid evidence assessment on research methods. After completing five pieces of work, four associated reports, and one (so far) academic paper, it goes without saying that it has been a busy year!
We have been very fortunate to work with incredible decision-makers in Africa who have participated with enthusiasm, are committed to evidence-informed decision-making, and have shared with us the amazing strides being made to ensure that environmental decision-making in Africa is evidence-informed.
Without our government partners Kiruben Naicker and Mapula Tshangela from the South African Department for Environmental Affairs, the success that has been #ACE_ESPA would not have been possible.
What have we learned?
- Growing evidence
Environmental evidence has a long history with a substantive evidence-base, but still some primary research needs exist. There is much space for young researchers to get involved in the production of primary research evidence that investigates the causal impact of interventions on poverty and ecosystems, both in Africa and beyond. Using the evidence map and the ESPA research plotted on the decision-making wheel would be a great place to understand the primary research needs. In addition, many areas for evidence synthesis remain where large bodies of primary research exists that have not been synthesized in a systematic manner.
What are we excited about?
- Continuing the conversation
Our ESPA project may have come to an end, but the conversations to be had regarding this evidence-base are going strong. We’re excited to engage with decision-makers across Africa about how they can use these project outputs in their decision-making. We’re also excited to share with research producers our experiences of carrying out this project the way in which we did.
To end, we thank our partners, team members, and funders: without you, the successful completion of this evidence synthesis project would not have been possible for the #ACEdreamteam.
September 2017: The #ACE_ESPA team attends the Global Evidence Summit in Cape Town, South Africa from 13 to 17 September
September 2017: #ACE_ESPA investigates governance in protected areas in one of their rapid evidence assessments
17 – 18 August 2017: Department: Environmental Affairs (DEA) Biodiversity and Evidence Indaba
The #ACE_ESPA project co-manager Dr Erasmus launched the evidence map on the links between interventions related to ecosystem services and poverty alleviation in Africa at the DEA Biodiversity and Evidence Indaba. Laurenz Langer – project co-manager – was active on Twitter, along with a number of ACE partners. Below are a selection of tweets from the day. – Natalie Tannous.
April – May 2017 #ACE_ESPA engaging with Africa decision-makers using the interactive evidence interface
January – March 2017 First quarter of #ACE_ESPA ends with an evidence map!