YESI gets political

News | Posted on Wednesday 22 February 2017

Generating positive change on environmental issues needs engagement from both academics and policy makers – a fact that YESI tries to address with each of its research projects.

Rachael Maskell Tansy beetle Biology
Rachael Maskell Tansy beetle Biology

Two of YESI’s management board, Sue Hartley (Director) and Jane Hill (Research Theme Leader for Resilient Ecosystems) have recently been involved in the political sphere in distinct ways.


Back in November, Sue travelled to Westminster to meet with Government Minister Robin Walker to discuss the opportunities and challenges posed by Brexit for conservation and environmental science in the UK. In her capacity as YESI director and British Ecological Society, Sue shared her insights on the positive impact EU cooperation has on scientific process and progress and on funding for environmental sciences. Talent recruitment and the setting and maintenance of environmental standards also featured heavily in discussions.


Jane Hill spent the first week of December in the House of Commons shadowing York Central MP and ex-Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Rachael Maskell. The unique scheme ran by the Royal Society allowed Jane to learn about Rachael’s work and attend seminars and panel discussions to discover how evidence is used in policy making. A highlight of the week was a role-reversed mock Select Committee, where Jane and other scientists acted as policy makers being provided with evidence and discussing it in the context of present and future policy. Last week saw Rachael return the visit, where she met with environmental researchers from across the university to discuss the future of environmental management and learn about York’s ground-breaking research.


As the political landscape of the UK continues to shift, distancing itself from EU legislation and aligning with new global commitments like the Paris agreement, encounters between environmental researchers and policy makers will have increasing significance. Meetings like these lay good foundations for strong relationships between York’s environmental researchers and decision makers.