Food For Thought, The Build better report


The British Science Association (BSA) has published a report aimed at leaders in business, science, policy, and civil society. Part of their For Thought series, the report aims to address key scientific and social challenges facing the world in the 21st century. 

The report is based on conversations, evidence and ideas discussed at a series of For Thought events held during February and March 2021. These discussions took the COVID-19 pandemic as a starting point to explore how science, research, innovation and technology could be used to deliver a more equitable, sustainable and prosperous future for people and the planet. 

For Thought: Build better sets out a plan for meeting the BSA’s biggest challenges – pandemics, climate change, cybersecurity, the future of cities and food security. The purpose of the report is to increase public awareness of our co-dependency and the world’s inequalities – as well as the demonstrable power of science to improve all of our lives. 

The challenge for leaders in business, science and policy is how they can create long-term value when politicians are elected for five-year terms, most research grants run for three to five years, and the average tenure for a Chief Executive at the top 2,500 global companies is five years. 

According to the report, evidence has emerged which indicates that young people, those aged 12-24 years, are among the worst-affected groups in terms of the economic and social impact of the pandemic, particularly in terms of the labour market and mental health outcomes. 

Young people from the poorest households or ethnic minorities are twice as likely to have lost their jobs. It urges its readers to consider ways of addressing intergenerational inequality in order to build trust in future decision-making. 

The worlds of business, policy and science have the power to bring about change, but leaders must view the large societal shifts needed from a whole systems perspective. 

There is a need for greater collaboration between public and private sectors and across borders and industries. This will require data sharing and trusted evidence and insight to formulate an action plan. A global crisis requires a global approach and as such, how we harness technology and data sharing is of the essence. 

This new report is both timely and important insomuch as it shifts and focusses our attention on ideas, experiences and learnings that place future generations at the heart of our institutional and systems decision-making, shares the benefits of research and innovation across different communities and creates a long-term leadership coalition to deliver the UK’s Net Zero ambition. 

Read the report here

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