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International Environmental NGOs and Conservation Science and Policy: A Case from Brazil

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As anthropogenic stressors on marine environments increase, the translation of marine science into beneficial policy outcomes becomes ever more crucial. International environmental nongovernmental organizations, with linkages to both the scientific community and the worlds of policy at multiple scales, are ideally situated to cross this science-policy boundary. This article uses the experiences of Conservation International's Marine Management Area Science program (MMAS) in Brazil as a case study of the development and application of science to policy. Qualitative data about MMAS in Brazil was gathered as part of a multi-sited ethnographic research project, with methods including document analysis, direct observation and semi-structured interviews. Findings indicate that Conservation International in Brazil informed and drove policy by (1) designing scientific studies to be both locally and globally salient, (2) ensuring participation of key stakeholders during the entire research cycle, (3) communicating understandable results to disparate audiences, and (4) building a political constituency for policy changes. Organizations wishing to translate science into policy must have a comprehensive research planning, data collection and analysis, and result dissemination process that pays heed to the aforementioned elements.
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Keywords: Brazil; Conservation International; coastal; nongovernmental organizations; science policy translation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Duke University Marine Laboratory, Beaufort, North Carolina

Publication date: 2011-05-01

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