The new employees of the Forum for Environmental Information (FEI), Outi Silfverberg and Auli Elolahti, tell us why decision-makers sometimes need help to interact with research information. The FEI promotes the use of scientific environmental information in social decision-making.
“Decision-makers meet with lobbyists, but they may never meet environmental researchers. From the point of view of decision-makers in particular, there seems to be a lack of well-packaged, easy-to-absorb ‘synthesis data’ that would bring together researched information to support decision making,” says the FEI’s new coordinator Outi Silfverberg.
Outi and Auli Elolahti, who is communications planner at the Forum, have completed multidisciplinary and social studies at the University of Helsinki. Previously, Outi worked for Finnish Consulting Group on development cooperation projects aimed at the sustainable use of natural resources. She has also worked in politics, focusing on the issues of urban planning and urban nature. Auli also has a background in youth politics. Both new employees have a long history in several environmental organisations.
”Having worked with environmental issues in various contexts, I have understood that the relationship between research and decision-making requires more support. Even the most relevant research results are sometimes left out when making decisions. It is not necessarily a question of unwillingness to use the information, but rather, that more practical support is required for the delivery of information,” Outi says.
Auli is also responsible for communications at the Nessling Nest workspace for researchers, run by the Nessling Foundation. Prior to this, she worked as communications planner for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC Finland) and coordinator of international environmental action days at the Finnish Nature League.
”This position ties together all of my previous experience. Environmental sciences and promoting environmental issues have been close to my heart for a long time. This position enables me to continue this by introducing environmental information to decision-making processes through various events and communication,” Auli says.
The Forum for Environmental Information operates on the border between science and decision-making, in an independent and agile manner.
“We are good at listening to decision-makers for the type of information they need, and when they need it. At the same time, we listen to researchers for the type of support they need in order to make their work more influential,” the women say.
The Forum for Environmental Information was founded in 2010, and its members include the Universities of Helsinki and Turku, the Ministry of the Environment, the Finnish Environment Institute, the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation, and Kone Foundation.
”It is great to have such a proficient and versatile network of environmental actors supporting our work. We conduct all the work in cooperation with other actors, which makes the work more effective. Cooperation helps us find topical issues, the latest research, and the hot topics in society,” Outi says.