Publication record details

Title NERC science : future impacts summary report : British Geological Survey report OR/13/037
Ref no OR/13/037
Author Chambers, J.; Goodenough, K.M.; Graham, C.C.; Price, S.J.; Weatherby, A.; Sanders, R.; Perry, F.; Porter, L.; Bloomfield, J.P.; Jordan, C.J.; Laxton, J.L., Shelley, W.A., Naden, J., Watts, M., Condon, D., , Barkwith, A.K.A.P.
Year of publication 2013
Abstract This report outlines the main outcomes from the NERC Science: Future impacts event held in March 2013 at Regent's Park College, London. The meeting was convened by a cross-centre group to examine future social, technological, economic, environmental and political trends over the next 20 years that will drive the need for science research. By undertaking a series of horizon scanning activities, two questions were explored; ï‚· What key shifts in natural environment research focus are needed to ensure socioeconomic impact in 20 years time? ï‚· What do we need to do as a family of institutions to ensure we are fit for purpose in delivering natural environment research outcomes with socio-economic impact? The activities during the day were based around six themes for which environmental science research is required to deliver solutions to future challenges. The six themes were: ï‚· Energy and mineral resources ï‚· Food and water resources ï‚· Urbanisation and land use ï‚· Biodiversity ï‚· Natural hazards ï‚· New technologies The likely drivers and challenges for research within each theme were identified through a series of facilitated horizon scanning activities. Common emerging trends and challenges were then recognised. The overarching themes that were identified included enhanced public engagement, sustainable delivery of ecosystem services and natural capital (including sustainable resource exploitation), urbanisation and population growth, vulnerability of people to hazards and characterisation of offshore and extraterrestrial environments. In addressing the question of how to ensure that NERC is 'fit-for-purpose' in delivering longterm impact, four critical issues emerged during the discussions. First, clear mechanisms and incentives are required to support and promote multi-disciplinary research. Resolution of the future environmental challenges will require work across scientific, social and economic research areas. The second and third issues are closely linked, and relate to direct engagement with the public, and communication with multiple (and potentially competing) stakeholders. To resolve difficult decisions about the use and management of the environment requires direct, informed debate with those who benefit from natural environment research including the public, industry and government. This could be supported by providing information about the consequences of different decisions, and communication could be enhanced through use of new technologies. Most importantly, this should be driven by responding to issues of practical societal and economic value. Recognition of the influence of human activity within the wider environment is essential to demonstrate NERC's role and relevance in understanding the role of humanenvironment interactions. Fourth, the style of communication, the mechanisms used to deliver scientific solutions, and the measurement of impact are essential considerations for demonstrating societal and economic relevance. In particular, research outputs need to show that NERC science contributes to longterm as well as short-term aims, and need to be tailored to the requirements of the principal stakeholders in order to deliver the maximum impact.
Publisher British Geological Survey
Place of publication Nottingham, UK
Series Open Reports
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