Tuesday 12th December 2023, 09:30 – 10:30 GMT
Presenters: Dan McGonigle and Betheney Wills (Defra)
Environmental policy is inherently complex. Outcomes on biodiversity, water quality, air quality, net zero, climate adaptation and food security are interdependent and affected in different ways by many interacting drivers. Policymakers need to consider where to intervene to meet goals whilst avoiding unexpected trade-offs. Defra established its systems research programme in 2019 to help the department navigate such complexity. Since then, a wide range of systems projects have been undertaken covering various aspects of Defra’s remit and applying a range of systems methodologies. Dan McGonigle will talk through some of the insights that have been gained through this work and some reflections on applying systems approaches to policy problems.
To compliment the work of Defra’s system research programme, Betheney has championed system thinking, with a focus on causal mapping, within the Marine and Fisheries Directorate. Betheney will reflect on multiple dependency and Participatory System Mapping exercises she has facilitated and led, spanning both evidence and policy programmes. Betheney will also touch on other approaches applied to spread system thinking, including the formation, and running of the Ocean Sustainability system book club.
Dan McGonigle is head of Systems, Innovation and Futures at Defra. Over the last four years, he has built up Defra’s systems research team to provide insights on policy interdependencies and complexity in environmental, agricultural and food policy. He also oversees Defra’s Futures team, Innovation Strategy team and Net Zero R&D portfolio. Prior to this he has 15 years’ experience working at the science-policy interface in Government, research and conservation organisations on sustainable agriculture and environmental management in the UK and overseas.
Betheney Wills is a Senior Social Researcher in the Strategy Evidence and Advice team in Defra Marine and Fisheries. She has held this position since February 2021 and provides robust social science data to inform and shape Offshore Wind and Species Conservation policy. Prior to this post Betheney completed her PhD with CECAN, investigating local resource management and the application of the Natural Capital Approach in the Marine Pioneer (a 25-Year Environment Plan pilot). It was during her time with CECAN that Betheney started to understand and embrace system thinking, enabling her to take this forward and share within Government.
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