This paper highlights the challenges of distilling generalizable principles and guidelines for sustainable co-management arrangements and demonstrating the practical impact of the underlying research. We explore the complexities of multi-country, socio-ecological research and address the challenges of moving beyond pure research to engage with the science-policy-practice interfaces. Growing demand for such applied research by official funding agencies is linked to the requirements of policy relevance and ‘research impact’. Successful applied research requires ongoing user engagement throughout a project, which is often hard to achieve, especially when diverse stakeholders have sharply different power, knowledge and interests. The arguments are exemplified by our personal experience on such a complex project. Clear impact agendas could be useful for strengthening efforts to achieve transdisciplinarity but research applications should not be penalised on account of inherent potential uncertainties and risks.
- sustainability science
- research impact agendas