Blurry crowd

Assembly 2014: Policy informed by research

In the opening two sessions of the ARCC Assembly, a common theme emerged around the value that decision-makers place on evidence that supports the development of policy and action.

Speakers from strands of government and its agencies were all asking for evidence to support their future priorities. From Kathryn Humphrey of the Adaptation Sub-Committee (ASC), we learned that there are evidence gaps in national-level data for monitoring adaptation, and that the forthcoming Climate Change Risk Assessment would be looking to current and new research to contribute to an evolving review of the UK’s climate risks.

David Penhallurick (Infrastructure UK) issued a challenge to the audience to help develop an approach to integrated infrastructure investment strategies, where collaboration would avoid the usual barriers to delivery. From the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Meg Patel described how the rolling programme that is the National Adaptation Programme would need to be supported by research as it evolves.

Angie Bone of Public Health England proposed some broad areas of research that the health sector would value. Firstly, evidence that looks at the health outcomes (e.g. hospital admissions) associated with hazards, such as flooding, and also outcomes associated with the impact of adaptations, such as passively-cooled buildings. Secondly, the health and care sector needs evidence on how policy can make the transition into practice, and thirdly, finding ways to capture successfully the experience and knowledge of practitioners so that it can be shared and integrated into new policy and practice.

The message was clear – policy needs the input of (the right kind of) evidence and research so that the UK can respond effectively to the challenges that climate change are bringing.

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