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Professor Frank Boons appointed to government science research programme

Frank Boons, Director of the Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI) and Professor of Innovation and Sustainability, has been appointed to a government-led Systems Research Programme which will look at some of the UK’s most pressing environmental issues to inform and shape key future policy decisions.

The Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) has appointed six senior academic Fellows from universities across the UK to focus on five key areas: Rural Land Use, Food, Air Quality, Marine, and Resources and Waste. Prof Boons is heading up the latter area on waste and resources systems.

Each academic will take a so-called  ‘systems mapping’ approach to identify how a policy change in one area might affect another, and make sure the connections between environmental issues are properly considered. A sixth Fellow, the ‘design authority’, will look at broader methodology and make sure that cross-cutting themes are identified.

Said Professor Boons: “This is a unique opportunity for the SCI, AMBS and the University to work with Defra and bring in our academic evidence in a way that makes real impact and brings it into the heart of policymaking.

“What Defra is trying to do is look at these grand environmental challenges in a very holistic way, and this might be one of the first instances where a department has established an overarching programme of this kind of work.

“For instance, how does an industrial strategy relate to the circular economy? How does plastic waste link to marine pollution? As we hear on the news every day these are really pressing challenges, but what you want to ensure is that when trying to address one problem you don’t end up creating problems in other areas.”

The Programme is being led by Professor Ian Boyd, Defra’s Chief Scientific Adviser. He commented: “The Programme breaks new ground by taking a systems approach to understanding the key policy questions across the Defra group to deliver innovative, evidence-based solutions for the future. This is a very busy and exciting time for policy making in Defra and this programme gives us the chance to concentrate on the UK’s priority environmental issues and use the best possible science to inform our solutions.”