The UK government's Department of Business, Innovation and Skills has published the report of the Triennial Review of the Research Councils. The review concluded that the current structure remained appropriate, but makes recommendations on various changes that aim at improving the use of public funds, accountability and efficiency. The report contains much interesting material
Filtered on Author (John Jackson)
The UK parliament's Environmental Audit Committee produced a report on 16 April 2014 on Invasive Non-Native Species - it's a fair overview of the current situation in the UK and was prompted by the drafting and development of EU regulation on invasive alien species. The EU measures are still in process and include the use of lists of invasive organisms that are common priorities across the EU.
update June 2014: the Government response to the EAC report has been published also.
On 14 April 2014 the European Council approved a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on compliance measures for users from the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization in the Union (PE-COS 131/13).
This is the final step for regulation on ABS on an EU level: member countries will now bring in measures to implement on a domestic level to fulfill obligations under the Nagoya Protocol to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. The regulation discusses and interprets the Nagoya protocol but develops particular measures of interest to collections-holding institutions:
- a voluntary register of collections will be established with the intention of reducing risk of accessing non-compliant genetic resources: the standards associated with registration will mean that users can state that they have exercised due diligence with respect to information on origins, consent and terms of access.
- provision for recognition of best practice in the form of procedures, tools and mechanisms, developed by associations of users or others. The intention of this is that adherence to recognised best practice will enable compliance with key requirements of the regulation. Not stated in the regulation, but forming part of the discussion between various interest groups, is the intended benefit of maintaining international confidence on compliance and so facilitating continuing international scientific collaboration on collections materials.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued three Working Group Reports for its Fifth assessment
- The Physical Science Basis
- Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability (in two volumes)
- Mitigation of Climate Change
A synthesis report is expected following a meeting of IPCC in Autumn 2014.
An interesting paper on the decline of scientific natural history in developed countries:
and an editorial in response from Nature:
The project that gave rise to the Tewksbury paper has a website:
The House of Commons Science and Technology committee published Communicating Climate Science (with additional evidence) on 2 April 2014, the report of an inquiry that looked at channels, messages, impact and responsibilities in the UK. Criticism of the BBC, government and scientific agencies and organisations such as the Met Office and Royal society - a need for clearer messages on the science; clearer distinction of science and policy; more effective use by science organisations of media channels; and much better messages and coordination across government.
Update June 2014: Government response published
The UK House of Lords has published a report on its inquiry Soft Power and the UK’s Influence. A primary focus on public diplomacy, including the activities of science, education, museums and others in the context of diplomacy. Makes a substantial list of recommendations to the UK government.
The UK parliament's House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has published the report of its inquiry on Women in Scientific Careers. Key points:
- Despite imperatives and attempts to improve the under-representation of women, only 17 per cent of STEM professors are women.
- The UK economy needs more STEM workers and cannot meet the demand without increasing the numbers of women in STEM.
- The lack of gender diversity in STEM is the result of perceptions and biases combined with the impracticalities of combining a career with family.
- Diversity and equality training should be provided to all STEM undergraduate and postgraduate students. It should also be mandatory for all members of recruitment and promotion panels and line managers.
- Early career short term contracts are a barrier to job security and continuity of employment rights. This career stage coincides with many women considering starting families - they are more likely than men to end their STEM career at this stage.
- Government should work with the higher education sector to review the academic career structure and increase the number of longer-term positions for post-doctoral researchers.