On 10 March 2021, the British Science Association hosts the first event of its thought-leadership programme, For Thought. Previously known as the Huxley Summit, this year’s theme Building resilience: the role of science and innovation in creating a sustainable future will be explored across three events taking place in March. A report bringing together the calls to action discussed by our speakers and attendees will then be launched at the final Summit in April.

Moderated by journalist and broadcaster Samira Ahmed, For Thought will bring together experts, influencers and key opinion leaders from business, science, policy and media, to discuss some of the biggest challenges facing our society today. For Thought provides a platform for senior leaders across a range of sectors to exchange ideas and share knowledge. The aim, to collaboratively address and find solutions to issues affecting society that are often described as “for scientists”, such as the climate emergency, medical research and development, and new digital technologies.

Coinciding with British Science Week the first event, Building resilience, asks how we can create resilient leaders, organisations and nations for future global shocks. COVID-19 has demonstrated how precarious some human-made systems and infrastructures are to the unexpected. The panel of experts will explore the ways in which we  can better prepare for future threats.

Our confirmed speakers:

On March 17, the second event, Innovating for the future, will draw out concrete recommendations for creating ecosystems that nurture and drive innovation. Its big question: how can we build back better and share the benefits of new technology, products and systems to create a more balanced and resilient economy?

Our confirmed speakers:

On March 24, our third event, Creating environmental prosperity, aims to set realistic plans for a green recovery from the pandemic in the lead-up to the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26). Speakers will debate questions such as whether the focus on achieving net zero, whilst side-lining issues such as biodiversity, is enough to create environmental prosperity.

Our confirmed speakers:

  • Dr Emily Shuckburgh OBE, Director of Cambridge Zero
  • Sir David KingFormer UK Special Envoy on Climate Change and Founder of Centre for Climate Repair at Cambridge
  • Dr Afsheen Kabir RashidCo-Founder and Co-CEO of Repowering London
  • Duncan Burt, COP26 Director at the National Grid
  • Aliza Ayaz, Founder UCL Climate Action Society and UN Youth Ambassador for the Sustainable Development Goals
  • Nero Ughwujabo, Former Special Adviser to Theresa May on Social Justice, Young People & Opportunities

The final Summit will pull together the calls to action from the previous events into a published report. More information about the event programme can be found at www.forthought.uk.

Katherine Mathieson, Chief Executive of the British Science Association says:

“It’s never been more important for science to work in harmony with wider society. The global pandemic has highlighted issues in systems we have in place but has also demonstrated that when faced with adversity, communities – from local residents’ groups to those in scientific research – can solve these swiftly and successfully.

For Thought (and also when it was called the Huxley Summit) aims and achieves just that: collaboration. By bringing together experts from a range of backgrounds, we gain a wealth of perspectives but also a more holistic view of the challenge, and the actions we can take to address these.

“Our previous events have established recommendations such as calling on Government to take note of early signs from the scientific community, concerted efforts from leaders to invest in the UK’s future, and assessing the impact of the pandemic on organisations’ minority groups to build a future framework that minimises harmful effects on people. In April 2021 we will be publishing our recommendations in a report – for the attention of Government, policymakers, businesses and society – determining calls to action which can be universally implemented.

“The platform For Thought provides is essential to convening diverse perspectives, representative of today’s society, to debate and establish ways to address the challenges we face now and in the future.”

Lord David Willetts, Chair of For Thought’s advisory board says:

For Thought’s collaborative, cross-sector ethos facilitates thinking, problem-solving and debate from a range of industries. This unique series of events allows leaders with decades of experience to share ideas with early career entrepreneurs and young activists – a melting pot of creativity and expertise.

“Conversations between policymakers, consumer-facing businesses, scientific and social researchers, and international corporations amongst others, drills into pressing challenges facing modern societies.

“This year’s programme comes at a pivotal time – the seeming end of the pandemic and revisiting the climate emergency in the lead up to COP26 – I’m looking forward to rich discussions and insightful proposals from an excellent set of speakers.”

Thank you to our partners for their support: EY, Lloyd’s Register Foundation, Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Institute of Physics (IOP).

For more information about this year's programme, follow this link.