The role of science and innovation in creating a sustainable future
All of the 2021 events will be delivered online. Each event will feature panel discussions involving high profile speakers and experts. Invited attendees will then have the opportunity to network, exploring the topics in more depth in small groups. All timings are subject to change.
This year’s theme focused on the ability of societies and systems to withstand shocks – or build resilience. Six For Thought roundtables took place in early 2021, the insights and ideas then summarised in the first report from the series, Build better.
Listed below are all of the For Thought events which took place in 2021.
The global shock of the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed inbuilt weaknesses within society but also demonstrated that rapid change is achievable. The pandemic has fundamentally changed how citizens, organisations and states perceive risk and questioned who we trust.
The UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs Social Inclusion has called the pandemic a “human, economic and social crisis”, “attacking societies at their core”. COVID-19 has demonstrated how precarious some human-made systems and infrastructures are to unexpected shocks.
This event will bring together leaders in business, policy, science and the media to draw out concrete recommendations to create resilient leaders, organisations and nations for the future global shocks.
At the start of 2020, there were no deaths from an unnamed, novel disease found in China. Within four months, the virus had spread to 170 countries and over three quarters of million people had been infected.
In December 2020, the first person in the UK received the Pfizer vaccine following emergency use authorisation. Never before have we seen such rapid development or clinical approval of a vaccine.
As the world looks to recover from the pandemic, how can we learn from innovating in a crisis to use economic and regulatory drivers to stimulate growth in technologies that do not yet exist? How can we share the benefits of new technology, products and systems more equitably; broaden participation to include people and places that have traditionally been underrepresented; and include more voices in decision making?
This event will bring together leaders in business, policy, science and the media to draw out concrete recommendations to create innovation ecosystems to build back better and share the benefits of new technology, products and systems to create a more balanced and resilient economy.
The shock of COVID-19 lockdowns have led to unintended environmental consequences. Despite a dramatic 5% drop in greenhouse gas emissions (UNCTAD), the consumption of disposable plastic used to reduce transmission of and control the virus has seen plastic pollution increase exponentially.
In the wake of the pandemic and in the lead up to COP26, governments, business leaders and scientist have acknowledged the importance of a ‘green recovery’. But is the focus on achieving net zero, whilst sidelining issues such as biodiversity, enough to create environmental prosperity?
How do we balance the immediate social and economic demands to return to ‘normal’ with the opportunity to shift towards a more resilient and sustainable future? What levers and coalitions can be used and created to turn pledges to action?
This event will bring together leaders in business, policy, science and the media to draw out concrete recommendations to put environmental prosperity at the centre of post-pandemic recovery plans in the lead-up to COP26.
The final Summit, Build better, ties together discussions from the three Chapter events. What calls to action should be implemented to address, and start solving, those challenges?
Having experienced devastation and disruption throughout 2020, leaders from all sectors must now work towards a society that is better prepared for unknowns. Better cooperation across industries is vital to rebuilding a more resilient post-pandemic world. The advances made during COVID-19 vaccine development demonstrate reactive innovation at its best – what lessons can be learned and applied to achieving environmental targets for instance?
This invite-only, virtual event will bring together leaders in business, policy, science and the media to launch a report with concrete recommendations drawn from the roundtable and Chapter events.
At the Build better summit event the BSA called on the UK Government to form a UK Net Zero Delivery Board that would be tasked with building a common agreement about how to practically implement a just transition and post-pandemic recovery.
This recommendation formed the basis of the annual For Thought debate on the British Science Festival 2021 programme.
Our panellists were Christina Adane (campaigner and co-chair of Bite Back 2030’s Youth Board), Carl Arntzen (Chief Executive, Worcester Bosch), Professor Penny Endersby (Chief Executive, Met Office), Professor Aled Jones (Director of the Global Sustainability Institute, Anglia Ruskin University) and Laura Sandys (Co-chair, IPPR Environmental Justice Commission; Chair of the Government’s Energy Data Taskforce and a Non-Executive Director).
From the pandemic to Brexit and the increase in climate-related extreme weather events, the last couple of years have demonstrated that – locally, regionally and nationally – we are intrinsically exposed to global challenges, through risks including: supply chains, conflict, migration and diseases emerging elsewhere in the world.
This online event will bring together senior leaders from business, science & research, policy, media and civil society organisations to discuss how we can communicate the wide array of risks in a way that enables people to make decisions for themselves and their communities.
A set of ‘new relationship with risk’ principles will be introduced and speakers will be invited to use a case study to illuminate the challenges and opportunities of seeking a new societal relationship with risk.
Speakers include I. Stephanie Boyce (President, Law Society for England and Wales); Lord Toby Harris (President, National Preparedness Commission); Nina Schick (Author, advisor and speaker, specialising in how technology is transforming politics and society in the 21st century); Dr John Taylor (External member of the Prudential Regulation Committee) and Professor Charlotte Watts (Chief Scientific Adviser, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)