Uptake of the recommendations and broader themes in Missing links has varied, but overall there are positive signs of change. Considerably more progress will be needed, however, to fully implement the intent of Missing links.
The 2004 investigation had examined ways of forging better links between scientific knowledge, public concerns, and environmental policy making. Of its four recommendations, the first two were accepted and partly implemented by the relevant ministries, while 3 and 4 were partly accepted and partly implemented by the agencies surveyed.
1. Environmental reporting: the Ministry for the Environment advised in June 2006 on plans to publish regular, accessible environmental reporting. A state-of-the-environment report is due at the end of 2007, and reporting on core indicators is to occur annually.
2. Public agency capability: the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology has investigated the science capability of regional councils and relevant government agencies, and it plans to assess them regularly. More comprehensive reviews may be required.
3. Alliances with science providers: overall, relationships between policy makers and science providers are becoming more robust, strategic and long term. However, the competitive model, along with capacity and resourcing issues, continues to restrict this. The Envirolink programme has been a marked success.
4. Improving communication: some positive progress on improving communication and accountability between scientists, policy makers and the public has occurred, but not enough to form a fully robust or holistic approach. There has been an effort to apply some boundary functions within agencies by policy makers.
The PCE acknowledges the challenges and difficulties that agencies face in developing effective policy. Fully implementing the ideas in Missing links requires significant changes from business-as-usual over a longer time period.