Development of systems approaches that can be used to inform policymaking. This includes approaches to provide insights into complex systems, identify points of intervention, account for multiple perspectives, and frame policy decisions


Defra’s areas of responsibility cover a wide range of interacting natural and human systems. Changes that affect one outcome are often likely to have knock-on implications for others. Policy in areas such as land management, biodiversity conservation, pollution prevention, food security, fisheries, and waste management, need to be designed in the absence of perfect knowledge of how human and natural processes interact. It can be particularly difficult to attribute cause and effect in such complex systems where evidence is often partial and fragmented.

Consideration of the issues that Defra deals with as parts of systems, i.e. in terms of relationships between the parts can help us to unpick complex or seemingly chaotic situations, and better deliver robust positive outcomes for society. To facilitate more effective decision making, a range of approaches and specialties need to be applied to the above challenges.

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