Environmental Evidence for the Future (EEF) initiative


This new programme of activity will pave the way to addressing crucial challenges and exciting opportunities that present from the UK leaving the European Union, including optimising sustainable environmental management and ensuring the resilience of our ecosystems and the quality of our water and air.

At a time when focus is overwhelmingly on short-term requirements, this programme will define, prioritise and address the medium- to long-term knowledge gaps in the environmental science evidence base. It will identify where NERC investments, the wider environmental research landscape and interdisciplinary knowledge can help address these challenges to inform decisions and pioneer innovative policies and solutions. It will take a holistic, systemic and outcome-driven approach.

Announcement of Opportunity: Environmental Evidence for the Future initiative call 2018

Closing date: 8 Nov

14 Sep 2018

NERC is inviting proposals for research projects costing up to £100,000 (100% full economic cost), and up to 12 months' duration under the Environmental Evidence for the Future initiative.

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The EEF initiative will work in close collaboration with relevant UK government bodies to define and prioritise key cross-cutting evidence challenges and decisions required post-referendum related to the European environmental policy frameworks under which they are currently working, and which have the scope to be addressed via the NERC community and NERC's investments in the medium-to-longer term.

Concept note for the EEF initiative (PDF, 113KB)


The initiative will run for an initial 12 months from March 2017 with the potential to extend a further 12-24 months.

Can I apply for a grant?

No, there are no current grant funding opportunities for this programme.


NERC will invest in the region £560,000 over the course of this initiative.

Programme awards

Five awards for systematic evidence mapping were made in December 2018 for 12 months (January - December 2019). Details on the funded projects are are shown in our live online grants browser - Grants on the Web (GOTW).

View live details of EEF funded awards - external link

Programme Executive Team (PET)

The EEF initiative is governed by a Programme Executive Team which is responsible for the strategic direction and management of the programme and delivery of the programme's objectives. Current members of the executive team are:

  • Sasha Leigh, Head of UK Partnerships
  • Gemma Truelove, Senior Programme Manager
  • Penny Gordon, Programme Manager

Programme Co-ordination Group (PCG)

The day-to-day management of the programme is undertaken by the EEF Programme Co-ordination Group, who report to the Programme Executive Group. The team is led by CEH and comprise the following members:

  • Rosie Hails (CEH) PCG Director
  • Jan Dick (CEH) Project Manager and Scotland Lead
  • Joanne Chamberlain (CEH) England and Norther Ireland Lead
  • Angus Garbutt (CEH) Wales Lead
  • Alan Evans (NOC) Marine Lead
  • Alan Gray (CEH) Overseas Territories Lead
  • Hannah Lacey (CEH) Communications Lead

Programme Advisory Group (PAG)

The EEF Programme Advisory Group will provide independent, impartial advice to the executive team on the development and direction of the programme. Members of the PAG were recruited through open competition with the group chaired by an invited senior member of the community:

  • Andrew Pullin (Chair), University of Bangor
  • Andrew Jordan, University of East Anglia
  • Stephen Gibson, Joint Nature Conservation Committee
  • Diane Mitchell, National Farmers Union
  • Helen Doran, Natural England
  • Clare Stringer, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
  • Robert Doubleday, University of Cambridge
  • Elizabeth Surkovic, Royal Society
  • Andrew Stott, Defra

Challenge setting workshops

As part of the development of the EEF initiative, NERC has run a series of workshops across the UK (Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England and British Overseas Territories) which explored the long-term opportunities for environmental policy in light of leaving the European Union.

The aims of the workshops were to:

  • Look forward 25 years at the environmental policy issues the UK may face post-Brexit.
  • Consider what the priority policy issues of the future might be.
  • Discuss what evidence needs policymakers might have to ensure the UK can capture opportunities and mitigate threats post-Brexit.
  • Develop a range of 100 word challenges that describe the priority policy issues.

The workshops were held on the following dates:

24 August 2017 (Heriot-Watt University)

12 September 2017 (Park Inn Hotel, Cardiff)

14 September 2017 (De Vere West One, London)
Note: The England workshop also encompassed a session looking at the challenges and opportunities for British Overseas Territories.

Northern Ireland
19 September 2017 (Radisson Blu Hotel, Belfast)

Participation at the workshops was by invitation only - a full list of attendees is provided in the individual workshop reports, which can be found below. A summary report is also provided, which pulls together the outputs from all four workshops, including the full list of 65 challenges that were developed.

Summary of regional workshops (PDF, 458KB)

Scotland workshop report (PDF, 538KB)

Wales workshop report (PDF, 458KB)

England workshop report (PDF, 556KB)

Northern Ireland workshop report (PDF, 402KB)

Call for Evidence

The scoping phase of the EEF worked with the policy and practice community using a futures approach to identify and define potential future environmental evidence challenges via a series of UK wide workshops. These identified 65 environmental evidence challenges.

The wider environmental sciences community were subsequently invited to help articulate the key knowledge gaps and evidence needs pertaining to this set of 65 future environmental policy and practice challenges. Responses to this call for evidence highlighted several broad and cross-cutting themes where environmental evidence is required to address these future challenges, provided in a summary and full report below.

EEF Call for Evidence summary report (PDF, 438KB)

EEF Call for Evidence full report (PDF, 1.7MB)