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Lloyd Anderson



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Subject: Lloyd Anderson, Director Science, British Council UK

What is the British Council's involvement with the environment?

The Council is increasing the money it spends on the science, engineering and the environment – to £8 million a year. So we’re gradually stepping up our commitment to the environment, seeing as at the heart of achieving sustainable development.

Our main focus in education in the broadest sense – everything from building networks between environmental scientists, to helping people facing environmental problem meet with UK experts.

The British Council has focused on environmental democracy. Why?

Things have gone wrong with science because of a very linear model of communication, which says that if you educate people better, then they’ll be more receptive to technological innovation.

GM foods showed how mistaken this model is. The more people know, the more they worry. You can’t educate their concerns away. Instead, you have to recognise many communities of interest and facilitate critical interactions between these groups.

With the environment, there is a tremendous opportunity to do this. In the UK, for example, more people belong to environmental action groups than political parties. It's opportunity to get people more involved in the democratic process.

How successful do you expect the World Summit to be?

Like Rio, this is a tremendously important event. Before Rio, no one really thought environmental issues were that important. But now the environment has real political credibility. We’ve some progress since Rio – but we’re still only starting to grapple with the big issues.

The World Summit is necessary to reaffirm that this agenda matters – to get real agreement between the world’s governments.

Unfortunately, I think we risk repeating the split we saw at Rio between rich and poor countries. Many developing countries are poorer than they ever were – and this makes it extremely difficult for them to develop in a sustainable fashion.

Why are you supporting the Daily Summit?

The British Council wants the Daily Summit because we want to try and pick up the news and views, chit chat, and backroom discussion from the summit. 

It’s often the discussion in the margins that really influences government. And people want to hear more than the formal statements coming out of the summit – they want to be let into the process and have a sense of what actually happens on the ground, and why.

Do you things have got better or worse since Rio?

Worse, I think. Some problems, like air pollution, have got better – but only in the rich world. Global warming and chemicals in the environment stand out as two big problems.

Optimists, like Bjorn Lomborg, think that we can work our way out of any situation with technology, but I think we’re going to see more problems emerge.

It’s true, we’re adaptable, but we are shifting from one unsustainable regime to another and we have lost many of the environmental buffers we once had.

10 August 2002





Lloyd Anderson
Who?Lloyd Anderson
What?Director Science
Where?British Council

“It’s true, we’re adaptable.

But we are shifting from one unsustainable regime to another."

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