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21st Century Challenges - Policy Forum

Policy briefings

A series of briefings from the Society aimed at parliamentarians and policy-makers. These briefings demonstrate the important role of geography in informing debates, issues and policies in complex and politically sensitive areas.

The briefings either: 

  • Summarise geographical research which has already contributed to policy debates and developments, or
  • Highlight research and work undertaken by geographers in policy areas where actions are needed, or of topical importance to  government and parliamentarians.

Copyright of all briefings lies with the Society. Please contact the Policy Team for further information.


Small area data: looking towards a 2021 census

August 2014

A collection of case studies illustrating the importance of small area data to many areas of policymaking and practice.

Case studies include:

  • the use of small area data in flood emergency management
  • housing policy
  • understanding the flow of people between places.



This briefing was informed by an Environment and Society Forum event, The future of small area population statistics, held at the Society in October 2013.


Water policy in the UK: the challenges

July 2012

  • Water policy in the UK (PDF)
  • List of references (PDF)

    A simple guide to the current and future policy challenges for water supply management in the UK.

    The briefing explores:

    • water supply and water quality
    • the importance of water in ecosystems and the natural environment.  



    The briefing was launched at an Environment and Society Forum discussion on 'The future policy challenges of an ecosystems approach'. This was held as part of the Future Water 2012 conference held at the Society.

    Speakers were:

    • Dr Geraldene Wharton, Queen Mary, University of London 
    • Dr Stewart Clarke, Natural England

    Professor Keith Richards, University of Cambridge.

    Consumption controversies: alcohol policies in the UK

    December 2010

  • Consumption controversies (PDF)
  • List of references (PDF)

    Provides an overview of research against a series of controversial questions and debates, assessing:

    • whether the UK actually does have a ‘drinking problem’
    • the positive role that the British pub may play in the economy, communities and people’s lives. 


    Launch event: House of Commons, 8 December 2010

    The formal launch took place in the House of Commons on 8 December 2010, hosted and chaired by Kevin Barron MP (Health Select Committee Chair 2005-2010). Speakers were:

    • Dr Nicola Shelton, University College London (UCL)
    • Professor Marion Roberts, University of Westminster
    • Professor Gill Valentine, University of Leeds
    • Dr Mark Jayne, University of Manchester.


    UK migration controversies: a simple guide

    December 2008

  • UK migration controversies: a simple guide (PDF)

    Explores the current state of geographical research evidence on the impact of migration on the economy and society of the UK.



    Arsenic pollution: a global problem

    July 2008

  • Arsenic pollution: a global problem (PDF)

    Naturally occurring arsenic in groundwater used for drinking, cooking and irrigation is a catastrophe of global proportions, with enormous public health implications, especially in Asia.

    This document makes recommendations for policy and action in the light of evidence on the extent and causes of arsenic pollution and its harmful effects to human health.



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