The Agile Initiative

at the Oxford Martin School

The Agile Initiative at the Oxford Martin School aims to revolutionise how world-class, high-impact research supports environmental policymaking.

For governments to make sound decisions about the environment, policymaking must be informed by the very best research. Yet science does not always seek to answer the same questions directly facing policymakers, nor does it move at the speed with which policy decisions need to be made.

Established with a major £10 million grant from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Agile Initiative is an ambitious effort to meet this challenge by responding to specific environmental policy questions with fast-paced research ‘Sprints’. In these Sprints, Oxford's world-leading academics and partners work together to feed evidence and science-led solutions into the policy cycle in real-time.

The first five Sprints have been chosen for their socioeconomic and environmental importance to policy, potential impact, time-scale deliverability, and inclusiveness and diversity. Other Sprints will be launched during the five-year programme with topics to be identified in collaboration with decision-makers in government, business and NGOs – all focussed on environmental issues.

Seddon Nathalie

We don’t have much time to get humanity onto a sustainable trajectory. We need to act more swiftly and flexibly. The Agile Initiative intends to change how research and evidence guide environmental policy, whilst also catalysing a shift in the research culture. Agile is building a genuinely demand-led interdisciplinary research structure, able to work more efficiently and more cooperatively. There is a huge opportunity here for researchers in any discipline, especially early career researchers, to get involved and be the change they want to see.

– Professor Nathalie Seddon, Director of The Agile Initiative at the Oxford Martin School

The Agile Initiative's Sprints

Sprint One: Providing guidance on accounting for biodiversity
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Assessing public sector spending to incorporate and account for biodiversity is a significant project at the UK Treasury. The team will focus on how to measure biodiversity impacts, how to balance biodiversity improvements with the social and economic welfare of people affected by them and how to deliver landscape-scale planning that supports biodiversity.

Academic experts will work with the Treasury, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, and the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust.

Sprint Two: Systemic innovation to transform nutrient flows
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Optimising nutrient flows across cities and their rural neighbours to maximise their values in food supply and the wider bioeconomy is important to key UK Government environment and resource management commitments. This Sprint will develop strategies for determining the best regional combination of nutrient recovery and utilisation options for both economic viability and environmental benefits.

Engineers, food systems experts and biogeochemists from Oxford and Lancaster Universities will work with Defra, Leicestershire County Council, Biffa, Aqua Enviro, 3-Keel, and Good Food Oxford.

Sprint Three: Scaling up Nature-based Solutions
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Nature-based Solutions (NbS) have the potential to contribute to net zero targets, reverse biodiversity decline, reduce vulnerability to environmental change and support economic recovery. This Sprint will advance the science and practice of NbS and how these can be taken to scale in the UK.

Biodiversity and climate change experts will work with Natural England, the Environment Agency, National Farmers Union, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, RSPB, WWF UK, UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment and local stakeholders at a range of sites where NbS are being implemented and evaluated.

Sprint Four: Decarbonising shipping via green ammonia
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Green ammonia is likely the most suitable zero-carbon fuel for the hard-to-abate industry of maritime shipping. It is, however, highly uncertain how shipping will transition away from fossil fuels.

Experts in green ammonia production, shipping and transport infrastructure planning, climate mitigation and economic analysis from the University of Oxford, the Climate Change Committee, Lloyd’s Register, Ørsted and the Ammonia Energy Association will work together to develop a roadmap for this transition.

Sprint Five: CO2 storage in and beneath our shelf seas
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This Sprint will build a decision-making framework for environmental impact assessment of proposed sites for sub-sea CO2 storage in offshore reservoirs. This will assess and reduce the tension between CO2 storage capacity and the risk of CO2 leakage and additional carbon loss through disruption of carbon currently stored in the ecosystem.

The academic team will work with BP, Ikon, Rockfield, the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and OceanMind to make strides towards making carbon capture and storage a practical option.

job vacancies

Programme Manager (AGILE)
Grade 8: £42,149 - £50,296 per annum
Closes: 11 Apr 2022

The Programme Manager will work closely with the Agile Director, to build this transformative programme and lead its day-to-day operational management.

More Information & Apply

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