The scope of the CECAN project runs wide as well as deep; complexity in the energy, water, environment and food domain would most immediately be thought to arise from the physical systems at the nexus core. Yes, complexity in weather systems, biological populations spring quickly and easily to mind as do the ‘user level’ human interactions with these systems and other local and global physical systems. However, when we are addressing remedial interventions, or even ongoing management of nexus concerns, we quickly realise a double dose of complexity if, as we certainly should, we look towards governance.
By Roger Highfield, Director of External Affairs of the Science Museum, member of the Royal Society’s Science Policy Advisory Group.
To tackle climate change, ecosystem destruction and the many daunting issues facing humanity we need not only to draw on science and engineering but also develop policies that can change the behaviour of 7.5 billion people.
That means we need ways to evaluate which policies work and which don’t, and figure out how to hone them. However, there is still some way to go to make our existing institutional machinery fit for purpose, according to a far-ranging discussion on Policy Evaluation for a Complex World I chaired this month, at St Martin’s in the Fields, Trafalgar Square, London, for the Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus (CECAN).
After a deeply divisive campaign, UK voters have opted by a small majority to leave the European Union. Environmentalists are accustomed to most policy being made jointly with the EU. The shock result flips that assumption completely on its head. The referendum process may be over, but the hard political debate over policy starts now.