Risky future

Posted: Thursday 1st December 2011

Our environment is changing - global warming, population growth and lifestyle changes will all impact the future of the environment. In a bid to better understand and anticipate plausible futures and associated environmental impacts, Defra and ten partners from across UK government have invested £1.8million in a new Centre for Environmental Risks and Futures (CERF) at Cranfield University. The Centre builds on expertise acquired from the previous “Risk Centre”, adding new capacities in horizon scanning and futures, systems modelling and environmental management.

Dr Miles Parker, Deputy Chief Scientific Adviser at Defra said:

“Defra has been investing in horizon scanning and futures research for almost a decade, but there is still more that we can learn. The Centre will be pivotal in applying risk assessment techniques so that we can understand what the biggest concerns might be in the future, and manage them preventatively. The research will be critical in ensuring sustainable development in the UK.”

Fiona Lickorish, Principle Research Fellow at Cranfield and leader of the futures work added:

“Horizon scanning and futures research really aims to get people thinking about what might happen in the future. At Cranfield, we have a dedicated work programme to systematically examine the future outlook from the present to 50 years or more, and identify unexpected issues and opportunities at the margins of our current thinking.”

CERF is led by Prof Simon Pollard and Dr Mick Whelan and will further the existing relationship between Cranfield University and Defra. The new work will be delivered in partnership with Defra, Scottish and Welsh Governments, Department for Energy and Climate Change, Department for Transport, Natural England, Forestry Commission, Environment Agency, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Marine Management Organisation, Food Standards Agency and the Natural Environment Research Council to deliver insights that will help to shape and future-proof policy and practice.

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