Science for Defra

10 July 2017

This report summarises the Science for Defra conference held at the Royal Society on 29 and 30 March 2017. 

This two-day conference brought together nearly three-hundred academics, government scientists and policymakers for an open and collaborative discussion about how science and technology can best inform environmental, food and rural policy.

Defra and the Royal Society showcased the best in both academic and government science, allowing identification of evidence gaps and development of core research principles. The conference covered a range of Defra’s areas of interest, including food and farming, animal health, environmental quality, and the provision of services from the natural environment.

The programme included presentations showcasing the application of evidence across Defra’s areas of interest, and panel discussions about the potential for scientific advance to identify and tackle policy challenges. There were also ‘futures’ workshop sessions considering priorities and trade-offs over the next 25 years. These sessions pushed participants to explore ideas beyond their usual specialisms and resulted in a rich dialogue between academic and policy communities.

Building on Defra’s science-driven approach, this conference was an opportunity to develop excellence in the application of evidence to policymaking, and also identified lessons for other government departments.