U.K. Seeks to Adapt to Changing Environment

“We are determined we are going to do the hard science which actually is of value to people in a rapidly changing world.”

That’s how ecologist Andrew Watkinson describes the £100 million U.K. research package launched today by Living With Environmental Change (LWEC), a recently formed partnership between Britain’s research councils, governmental departments, and nongovernmental organizations. Watkinson last year took on the directorship of LWEC, whose purpose is to coordinate the U.K. response to environmental change, primarily that caused by the global warming expected in the future.

The research efforts announced today at a media briefing include more than a dozen programs that will tackle scientific issues such as how to achieve a low-CO2-emitting society, how to ensure food, water, and energy supply on a global scale, and how to increase the resilience of areas affected by the changing environment, Watkinson explains.

LWEC includes and combines research in the natural sciences as well as economics and social sciences. Coming up with new knowledge and technology just isn’t enough, Watkinson notes. Research into how to best inform and explain the findings and how to ensure that the changes necessary to make society sustainable are acceptable to the public is also needed. Such research will be conducted within a new Research Centre on Sustainable Behaviours.

By promoting interactions between scientists from different areas and policymakers, LWEC hopes to ensure that scientists are working on the most pressing issues and that politicians make well-informed decisions. “We are really bringing together the science and policy agendas to make sure they are tackled efficiently and effectively in a way that just hasn’t happened in the past,” says Watkinson.

Here's a complete list of the research efforts funded by LWEC.