Impact Assessment (IA) of planned policies is increasingly perceived and used as a tool to consider the concerns of Sustainable Development from early on in decision making. For such assessments, a wide range of evidence from many different disciplines is needed: For example, agricultural policies impact on soil, water, climate, employment, economy, third countries, etc.

The main objective of LIAISE ‘Linking Impact Assessment Instruments and Sustainability Expertise‘ is to build up a broad interdisciplinary community of researchers and practitioners which develops a mutual understanding of the respective needs and potentials.

LIAISE was established as part of the European Commission’s FP7 work programme (2009) as a Network of Excellence (NoE) in order to improve the application of Impact Assessments by both the research and the policy making communities. Its focus is on policy development relating to sustainable development strategies.

The mission or the overarching objective of LIAISE is to contribute to the renewed EU Sustainable Development Strategy by bridging the gaps between science, policy making and implementation, with academically-grounded approaches to IA. To do this it has identified three strategic goals.

  • The centrepiece of the LIAISE project will be a virtual facility called the ‘shared IA toolbox’. This will be a durable and flexible infrastructure on a dedicated web platform providing access to the most up to date and relevant IA tools together with a help desk facilities. There will also be the capability to make technical enhancements to improve the applicability of tools to policy makers and at the same time provide development opportunities to researchers.
  • Expertise within the LIAISE NoE will be harnessed to provide a continuously updated ‘shared research agenda’ on IA issues identifying needs, gaps and the application of new techniques and technologies. As well as engaging existing scientists and practitioners, capacity building initiatives, information dissemination and training modules will spread the results of research activities to new IA users and researchers.
  • The LIAISE NoE will be developed with a governance structure and a business plan that will aim to be inclusive to all parties with an interest in developing standards of excellence in IA. It will ensure the IA toolbox is durable with a long term future well beyond FP7 funding.
  • LIAISE will hold its 3rd Annual Meeting in Bilbao, hosted by TECNALIA, from 14 to 16 March 2012. 

    Recurrent elements in the Annual Meetings are the consolidation of the NoE by enhancing information exchanges and updates on achievements in the previous year, strengthening the internal relations, and exchanging, clarifying and harmonizing concepts and definitions at the core of LIAISE. A major new element in the Annual Meeting in Bilbao is the outreach to external groups/projects that are relevant to LIAISE objective to build a community of IA researchers and practitioners that will continue beyond the period of project funding. In particular, the Open Day on 14 March will be used to present LIAISE and discuss opportunities for linking–up with external parties, projects and developments with invited external experts, covering fields of IA expertise that are not included in the LIAISE consortium. It is worth mentioning the special focus in the programme on the LIAISE offspring activities, targeted at early career IA researchers.