Mapping knowledge needs

The European Environment Agency (EEA) led the implementation of the task on the mapping of knowledge needs, supported by the Austrian Environment Agency (EAA).

The objective of the task to map knowledge needs was to understand the demands of the National Hubs, EU policy makers and members of the HBM4EU Stakeholder Forum for HBM evidence on specific substances and substance groups.

These three groups of actors are the principle end-users of results generated under HBM4EU, and we therefore aimed to get a comprehensive understanding of their specific needs.

Key steps that enabled us to reach this objective included running an online survey requesting the nomination of substances for research under HBM4EU, a stakeholder workshop and a focus group discussion with citizens on chemicals.

A second objective was to gather and collate the evidence required to undertaken the prioritisation exercise. In requesting input via the online survey, we asked respondents to identify the substances or substance groups that they would like HBM4EU to work on, as well as identifying questions that they would like HBM4EU to address and describing the role that HBM activities might play in answering those questions.

We also asked survey participants to submit available evidence against the prioritisation criteria, to support us in gathering the information required to assess their proposals. The prioritisation criteria were developed and agreed in 2017 and are described in Deliverable 4.3 on the Prioritisation strategy and criteria. This approach both responded to the limited time and resources available in the project to support prioritisation, and aimed to open up the process of gathering evidence to support prioritisation to all actors.

Collating all nominations into a “long list” of the knowledge needs expressed by these various actors, enabled us to look across those needs to assess commonalities and divergence.

A third objective was to produce a short list of approximately 25 substances and groups of substances, to be assessed in detail under the task on the prioritisation of substances. Our goal was to prioritise those substances and substance groups for which there was a demand for knowledge to support policy making at EU level, whilst also capturing priorities from the National Hubs, where there was consensus, and responding to the needs of stakeholders.

Finally, we produced draft background documents on each substance or substance group on the short list, with the objective of systematically feeding the knowledge needs and collated evidence into the process for the prioritisation of substances.

Key steps in the mapping of needs are listed below. Click on the links to access more detail and to view the results under each step.

  1. Step 1: An online survey requesting the nomination of substances for research under HBM4EU in which members of the EU Policy Board, the National Hub Contact Points and the members of the Stakeholder Forum nominated substances and/or groups of substances for work under the project. Survey participants were asked to justify their nominations by submitting information against the prioritisation criteria.
  2. Step 2: Collation of survey results to produce a long list of all newly nominated substances and substance groups. This involved removing all re-nominations of substances on the 1st list of HBM4EU Priority Substances, as well as consolidating single substances and groups of substances where there was overlap.
  3. Step 3: Reducing the long list down to a short list of nominated substances and substance groups, by identifying those substances for which EU policy makers identified a need for evidence at EU level, and for which there was broad support.
  4. Step 4: Stakeholder workshop on prioritisation, allowing for an open discussion on substances on the short list and giving the HBM4EU partners a chance to learn about stakeholder priorities and concerns in greater detail.

In addition and will the explicit aim of understanding public concerns, HBM4EU undertook two outreach activities with European citizens. An online survey was conducted with European citizens on human biomonitoring. This was complemented by a focus group on chemicals held in Austria with members of the public. The results of these two outreach activities are summarised in a report on HBM4EU_outreach to European citizens.