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Greater greater collaboration between scientists and policy makers needed

06 December 2017


Sustrans’ research has been recognised by the United Nations as an example of best practice in using science to shape sustainable development policy. The new UN report, ‘Strengthening the Science-Policy Interface: A gap analysis’, highlights the need for greater collaboration between scientists and policy makers in finding solutions to environmental challenges. It recognised Sustrans’ Fit for Life report covering independent research by leading experts into the public health benefits of walking and cycling routes.

In his foreword, Erik Solheim, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, says: ‘With a growing number of environmental challenges to resolve, robust, easy to understand scientific data is a crucial building block for policy makers. This report analyses the gap in collaboration between scientists and policy makers, and tries to explain how closing it can protect this planet and its people.

He adds: ‘There is growing evidence that sound science can play an important role in creating the political will to shape policies that can deliver the Sustainable Development Goals. For example, Dr Andy Cope, Director of Insight at Sustrans, partnered with the UK Research Councils funded iConnect research consortium to evaluate a UK Big Lottery funded active travel programme. Together they made a very compelling case for legislation and policy supporting walking and cycling in the United Kingdom. This includes promoting the Active Travel Act in Wales, increasing investment by the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland, supporting a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy for England, and significantly increasing investment in active travel in Scotland through the Cycling Action Plan for Scotland.’

Andy Cope, Director of Insight at Sustrans, said: ‘Walking and cycling is part of the solution to many of the challenges we face, including air pollution, congestion, physical inactivity and obesity. From our recent Bike Life report to the launch of our new air quality model - making the case for walking and cycling using robust evidence is a key aspect of our work and we welcome this recognition from the United Nations. We continue to call on governments at all levels to invest in cycling and walking to increase the number of people travelling in a way that benefits their health, the environment and the economy.’

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