The University of Exeter recently hosted a senior delegation from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Some 17 senior staff, including leads from the environmental and agricultural policy areas as well as the head of the recently created Environmental Analysis Unit visited the University’s Land, Environment, Economics and Policy Institute (LEEP) along with colleagues from the wider SWEEP team. Accompanied by Senior Programme Managers from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the delegation were in Exeter to see the range and breadth of project work carried out by LEEP and SWEEP, and how it ties in with Defra’s own objectives and wider environmental policy.
The purpose of the visit was to understand how SWEEP and LEEP are working to champion the use of natural capital approaches to decision making to protect and enhance the environment and provide an engine of economic growth and social wellbeing. A collaboration between the Universities of Exeter, Plymouth and PML, SWEEP is viewed not just as a driver of sustainable growth in the region but as an exemplar for national application.
“It’s very unusual for such a large delegation of senior officials from a Government Department to visit a university,” said Professor Ian Bateman, Director of LEEP and SWEEP. “However, this is a critical time in environmental policy with changes developing rapidly. This in turn generates a variety of decision-making challenges which our research and expertise is directly helping to address.”
So far this year the SWEEP/LEEP teams have already contributed to development of the government’s 25 Year Environmental Plan, and the latest revision of the H.M. Treasury guidelines for the appraisal of public spending investments. This latest visit comes shortly before a project headed by Prof. Brett Day delivers a major new environmental policy decision support system to Defra.