Defra today set out how it will pick Britain's best scientific brains to
predict and prepare for future risks or opportunities.
Backed by £2million anticipated for its first year, Defra's Horizon Scanning
Strategy for Science is designed to fund research projects which challenge
Defra's current thinking and help to develop policy based on sound science.
Defra and the Central Science Laboratory will start the process with
workshops in the New Year to think ahead in the theme of environmental
challenges and opportunities. Scientists from a range of organisations will
share ideas and develop research proposals on, for example, ecosystem risks
from chemicals and how to deal with them, community-based fisheries
management tools, climate change and the environmental effects of new
Defra is also scoping research needs in other science related to Defra's
mandate that, taken together, cover the five key themes of the horizon
scanning strategy during its first year:

Environmental constraints - how we might better utilise and protect our
limited natural resources (promote sustainability) and identify what factors
will be influential on environmental change in the future.
Coping with threats - assessing our vulnerability to new threats and
improving society's ability to adapt to them.
Future landscapes - the forces likely to shape urban and rural landscapes and
their potential consequences.
Re-thinking the food economy - creating food chains to provide safe,
nutritious food at affordable prices.
Meeting people's future needs - connecting Defra's policies and work with the
range of people's expectations. The horizon scanning programme is a core part
of Defra's Science and Innovation Strategy, due to be published in May 2003.
Professor Howard Dalton, Defra's Chief Scientific Adviser, said:
"Defra is keen to turn this strategy into action. Horizon scanning is
critical for modern organisations. It enhances our ability to think 'outside
the box', and for policies to be informed by a better understanding of what
may be in store for us.
There is a wealth of untapped ideas in the scientific community and I look
forward to working with partners and stakeholders to start turning these
ideas into action."
Notes for editors
The Horizon Scanning Strategy was developed following consultation. See news
release at <A HREF="
Copies of the strategy and responses to the consultation can be found at <A HREF="
Defra defines horizon scanning as: "the systematic examination of potential
threats, opportunities and likely future developments, which are at the
margins of current thinking and planning. Horizon scanning may explore novel
and unexpected issues, as well as persistent problems or trends. Overall,
horizon scanning is intended to improve the robustness of Defra's policies
and evidence base."
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