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Policy briefings

A series of briefings from the Society which have been published aimed at parliamentarians and policy-makers demonstrating the important role of geography and taking a geographical perspective.


Small area data: looking towards a 2021

Published August 2014

Small area data (PDF)


This latest policy briefing from the Society contains a collection of case studies which illustrate the importance of small area data to many areas of policymaking and practice.

The case studies featured in the briefing include the use of small area data in flood emergency management, housing policy and understanding the flow of people between places. Each case study also includes evidence of the impact the data have on people’s lives.

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

Published July 2012

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

    Focusing on ten key challenges, this is a simple guide to the current and future policy challenges for water supply management in the UK.

    The briefing covers issues around water supply, quality and issues concerning the importance of water in ecosystems and the natural environment. 

    The briefing was launched at the Future Water 2012 conference held at the Society, where a roundtable discussion "The future policy challenges of an ecosystems approach" was held as part of the Society's Environment and Society Forum, with presentations from Dr Geraldene Wharton, Queen Mary, Dr Stewart Clarke, Natural England, and Professor Keith Richards, University of Cambridge.


    Consumption controversies: alcohol policies in the UK

    Published December 2010

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

    This policy presents an overview of research against a series of controversial questions and debates: from whether the UK actually does have a ‘drinking problem’ through to assessing the positive role that the British pub still plays 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). The following speakers took part: Dr Nicola Shelton, University College London (UCL); Professor Marion Roberts, University of Westminster; Professor Gill Valentine, University of Leeds and Dr Mark Jayne, University of Manchester.


    UK migration controversies: a simple guide

    Published December 2008

  • UK migration controversies: a simple guide (PDF)

    This policy briefing sets out the current state of geographics research evidence on migration and its impacts on UK economy and society.

    Responding to ten key arguments currently in circulation in the UK, the briefing sets out, in simple terms, where the weight of research evidence lies.


    Arsenic pollution: a global problem

    Published 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.


    About the Society's policy briefings

    These policy briefings began in 2008. They highlight geographical and cognate research that can inform on debates, issues and policies in complex and politically sensitive areas. They also highlight areas in which policy actions are needed.

    This series takes one of two forms, either: 

    • Summarising geographical research which has already contributed to policy debates and developments, or
    • Highlighting research and work undertaken by geographers in policy areas where actions are needed, or on which government and parliamentarians are focusing, and where it is felt greater awareness of this work would be mutually beneficial

    Hard-copies of these briefing documents are available from the Society. Copyright of all briefings lies with the Society. Please contact the policy team at the Society (email policy@rgs.org) if you would like to receive a hard copy of any of the documents, or for any further information.

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