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Applying Systems Thinking to Analyse Complex Social-Ecological Issues for UK Government

May 17, 2023 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Speaker Dr. Gary Preece is Head of the Systems Research Programme in the UK Government’s Department
for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). He is also an analyst in the Government Operational
Research Service with experience working for a range of government departments in the UK and abroad.
Prior to working in government, Gary worked in academia researching systems thinking approaches
to support information management and disaster response. Gary holds a PhD in systems thinking from
Aston Business School and is a Fellow of the Operational Research Society.

Biodiversity loss and climate change continue to raise the stakes for environmental, agricultural and food policy across the globe. Issues in these policy areas can cascade across countries and across different sectors of the economy. The social-ecological systems within the policy remit of the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) often behave in ways that are complex and unpredictable. The policy challenges can be wicked and intractable, with potential solutions contested by actors with conflicting goals.

Systems thinking can help us understand complex issues by encouraging us to examine inter-relationships and account for wider factors, perspectives and influences within the problem-solving process. The Systems Research Programme at Defra has been running since 2019, providing a dedicated team to support Defra undertake systems thinking analysis to tackle some of its most complex and intractable issues. In this talk, I will introduce Defra’s approach to systems thinking analysis, highlight different techniques used and provide reflections on how systems thinking can be used to support policy and decision making in complex areas.

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May 17, 2023
11:00 am - 12:00 pm