Vision and purpose

Our vision

Montage images of NERC science

To place environmental science at the heart of responsible management of our planet.

We no longer live in a natural world - there is virtually no part of the environment that we have left unchanged.

Our growing population and the way we live has changed our relationship with the environment and humans are now the dominant source of change.

People around the world aspire to escape poverty and improve living standards: achieving this whilst living within the Earth's limits is a great challenge of the 21st century.

NERC science has a critical role to play in meeting this challenge - to help the UK deliver innovation and growth with responsible environmental management.

Our purpose

NERC was created in 1965 when a number of environmental research organisations and surveys were brought together by Royal Charter. From 1 April 2018, NERC is part of UK Research & Innovation, a new organisation that brings together the UK's seven research councils, Innovate UK and Research England to maximise the contribution of each council and create the best environment for research and innovation to flourish. The vision is to ensure the UK maintains its world-leading position in research and innovation.

NERC responsibilities as set out in the Higher Education & Research Act 2017 are to:

  • carry out research into environmental science, technology and new ideas
  • encourage and support the provision of postgraduate training in environmental science, technology and new ideas
  • facilitate, encourage and support environmental research, technology and new ideas
  • facilitate, encourage and support the development and exploitation of environmental science, technology and new ideas
  • facilitate, encourage and support knowledge exchange in relation to environmental science, technology and new ideas
  • collect, disseminate and advance knowledge in environmental science, technology and new ideas
  • promote awareness and understanding of environmental science, technology and new ideas
  • provide advice on any matter relating to NERC functions
  • promote awareness and understanding of NERC activities.