Joseph Lewis
27 June 2024

Our message to government: transform the UK

How to transform the UK for sustainable wellbeing: Priority actions for the next UK Government

As the IES's discussion event series: 'Priorities for the next UK Government' concludes, we have published analysis setting out the key outcomes from the discussions, ahead of a policy paper outlining our message to government, which will be released early in the next parliamentary term.

Read the outline priorities.

What are the priorities?

Each discussion provided a 'top priority' for an area of environmental science, with several key actions needed to help deliver them, as well as additional priorities for each specialism. Some of the highest priorities from the discussions included:

  • Transform the UK through a new Mandate for Sustainable Wellbeing, beginning the transition from years of crisis towards a sustainable society where people and nature thrive
  • Secure a world-leading governance framework for air quality
  • Take a holistic approach to the use of land across the UK
  • Adopt a long-term approach to water that acknowledges humans as part of the water system
  • Commit to a ‘transformative change’ approach to reshaping unsustainable systems
  • Enable local authorities to deliver for the environment
  • Deliver a reformed EIA process as part of a sustainable planning system
  • Embed Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) across education

The full outline of priority recommendations has more information on each, as well as other priorities which will be addressed in the message to government.

How were the priorities developed?

Over the last three weeks, the IES held seven discussion events, seizing the opportunity of the recently announced UK General Election to revisit key policy discussions where intervention is required for the benefit of communities and the natural world. More than 150 environmental scientists from across the IES family took part in the debates on short notice, supporting a uniquely evidence-informed approach to the issues identified as priorities for the next UK Government, whichever party or parties form that Government.

In just a couple of weeks, the start of the new parliamentary term will provide a short yet crucial window of opportunity to engage with policy makers to support environmental improvement. The outcomes of these events will directly facilitate engagement by the IES with policy makers during the early days of the next Parliament.

The priorities were developed by IES communities and members, informed by open discussion events and the IES vision for the future of environmental science.

What next?

Efforts have already begun to translate the priorities into a single coherent message for government, which will be published in the coming weeks. The final result will be a concise message on delivering sustainable wellbeing to transform the UK, supported by a list of priorities and key actions to help deliver them.

The next five years will be make-or-break for the environment in the UK. This is a fundamental opportunity and IES members have spoken with one voice: use the next five years to transform the UK through sustainable wellbeing, delivering the mutually reinforcing benefits of thriving people, a healthy economy, and a flourishing environment.