Exploring the ways environmental science is used and valued by policy-makers in Portugal: a case study

part of Bridging the gap between science and policy: the importance of mutual respect, trust and the role of mediators

Policy-makers, researchers and the general public seem to agree that there is a need for evidence-based policies. Here we report on a case study which explores environmental policy-making at the national and local levels in one European country, Portugal. The case study focuses on understanding how that scientific evidence is used and valued by policy-makers. Our data show that in Portugal there are opportunities at national and local level for scientific evidence to influence environmental policy-making and there is a general belief amongst policy-makers that scientific evidence is essential for the development of solid and trustworthy policies. However, challenges remain, including difficulties in working together and challenges imposed by the policy cycle. The bridge may not yet be fully constructed, but in Portugal, policy-makers largely recognise the need for scientific evidence and the research community is beginning to reach out, looking for ways to connect with the policy community.