Are policymakers listening to environmental scientists?

Posted on 28 November 2013

An international panel of academics, policy advisors and politicians will discuss this question at a free public seminar at the University of York early next month.

The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) at the University of York will host its third annual public seminar that will ask: “Does anyone listen? Can science deliver the evidence policy makers need?”

The panel will be chaired by Dr Johan Kuylenstierna, Executive Director of SEI, an environment and sustainable development research institute with centres across the globe. It is comprised of Professor Ian Boyd, Defra’s Chief Scientific Advisor; Andreas Carlgren former Swedish Environment Minister; Professor András Szöllösi-Nagy, Rector of the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water; Professor Sue Hartley, Director of the University’s York Environment Sustainability Institute (YESI); Dr Lisa Emberson, Director of SEI at the University of York.

Ian Boyd is Chief Scientific Adviser at the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and has a background in ecology and polar research. He became the Chief Scientific Advisor in 2012 providing scientific evidence advice for UK policy development to government ministers.

Andreas Carlgren was Sweden’s Environment minister from 2006 to 2011. At a speech in 2011 he said: “Decision-makers must listen to the science community, in order to define the safe operating space of the Earths planetary boundaries.”

Hungarian András Szöllösi-Nagy has a background in water science and has lectured on hydrology all over the world. He promotes the need to improve our management of water under climate change.

Sue Hartley is an ecology Professor at the University of York specialising in interactions between plants and animals. Sue delivered the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures in 2009 on The 300 Million Years War between plants and animals, and how that conflict has shaped us and the world we live in.

Lisa Emberson became Director the York centre of SEI in 2012. She has over 15 years’ experience in the field of air pollution focussing on the effects of pollution and climate change on food production and forests.

Johan Kuylenstierna has a background in water and previously worked as Chief Technical Advisor to the Chair of UN-Water, based at the Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome.

Seminar coordinator, Steve Cinderby from SEI at the University of York said: “Research undertaken by environmental scientists is increasingly focussed on delivering information, ‘evidence’, to help guide decision makers when choosing what actions to take. From global issues like climate change to national concerns such as managing tree diseases our scientific knowledge is being presented to decision makers to help them take actions… But are we doing enough? Are we presenting the right information in the most useful ways? Could we do things better - or are policy makers now so overwhelmed with information that they have stopped listening? This is the topic of our 2013 seminar – with a diverse international panel of informed speakers it should be a lively and informative discussion.”

The free public seminar will take place on Tuesday 3 December at the Ron Cooke Hub, University of York from 5.30 – 7.30 pm.

The event is free and can be booked online by visiting www.seiy2013.eventbrite.co.uk.