NERC science brings large, long-term benefits for the UK and other countries

24 January 2017

Today, we published our annual Impact Report which shows how NERC science brings sustained benefits to our economy and society, driving UK productivity and competitiveness while building a safer, wealthier and more secure world.

Montage of images relating to NERC science

NERC-funded science has made the UK more prosperous and has brought benefits to low-income rural communities, cities, industries, governments and charities in the UK and across the globe. Meanwhile we are also building skills and leadership in environmental science: NERC PhD graduates provide skills that 75% of their employers said they would struggle without.

NERC's chief executive, Professor Duncan Wingham, said:

"We focus investment on challenges where scientific discovery can make the biggest difference to people's lives. The great challenge of the 21st century is ensuring people can escape poverty and improve their living standards while living within the Earth's limits. This year's Impact Report shows again that our sustained investment, alongside the strong partnerships we nurture, drive meaningful and long-term societal benefits."

The report includes NERC-commissioned analysis conducted by Deloitte. Here are some of the highlights:

Impact report logo
  • Smarter regulation saves water industry £7 billion and UK set to benefit by £5·5 billion

    NERC-funded research has cut billions of pounds worth of costs for the water industry between 2015 and 2051. These savings have been made possible thanks to improved regulation informed by evidence from NERC science. The regulation will also generate a potential £5·5 billion in net UK benefits from cleaner water over the same period.

  • Shellfish production surges and marine ecosystems recover

    The UK has seen £908 million in positive net impacts as a result of a ban on anti-fouling chemicals. The bans were based on evidence produced by NERC researchers into the effects of chemicals such as tributyltin on shellfish. The UK shellfish industry and its supply chain saw a £331 million benefit in the same period and the UK saw £718 million in benefits such as value for anglers and divers. Deloitte's analysis suggests that between £172·5 million and £236 million of these benefits is thanks directly to NERC-funded science.

  • Saving lives and boosting economies for some of the world's poorest and most vulnerable people

    The report also illustrates our contribution to international development. NERC-funded scientists helped:

    • maintain food security in Bangladesh by showing that groundwater can safely be used for irrigation
    • save lives and protect economies in Africa by developing an innovative weather and climate forecasting system
    • save lives in the Caribbean by showing how to reduce the risk of landslides.

The full report is available to read in the downloads section of this page.


Further information

Sylvie Kruiniger
NERC media office
01793 412593