Defra Launches Evidence and Investment Strategy to 2013

Defra has launched a new Evidence and Investment Strategy: 2010 – 2013, building on its previous strategy, which ran from 2005 – 2008. The purpose of the Strategy is to prioritise and manage Defra’s investment in evidence to 2013, focusing on three major areas: climate change, securing a sustainable food supply and protecting ecosystems.

Commenting on the launch of the strategy, Professor Bob Watson, Chief Scientific Advisor at Defra, said “it is absolutely essential that all the policies that we formulate are based on sound evidence…there has never been a time when there was a greater need for good quality evidence to contribute to policy-making and sound decisions”. An interview with Professor Watson is available as a video on the Defra website.

At present Defra spends approximately £240 million per annum on evidence to underpin policy formulation. In commenting on the launch of the Strategy Prof. Watson emphasises the importance of a ‘joined up’ Defra to make sure that this money is well spent and appropriately focused. Those working in the areas of food security, climate change and ecosystem services need to work together. These issues are also not simply domestic concerns, hence Defra must work with the Department for International Development. Finally, Defra must work closely with the Research Councils on delivering on these priorities.

The Strategy emphasises the importance of Defra possessing an adequate skills base to deal with the results of research and commission and procure good quality evidence. In his interview, Prof. Watson emphasises the importance of Defra staff becoming “intelligent customers of evidence”. Following the launch of the Strategy, an implementation plan is to be drawn up to make sure that the key points of the Strategy are translated into practice and that the Strategy’s concerns become embedded in the culture of the Department.