Climate change, security, pressures on the supply of energy, food and water, health and migration pose unprecedented and inter-connected challenges to the world. Science and engineering are central to identifying, understanding and addressing these challenges. In fact it is difficult to think of a policy area, or a government department, where science cannot make an important contribution. While some of these are obvious such as climate change, others may be not so apparent, for example, the science of demography and ageing needed to inform the funding of future pensions and benefits or the volcanic eruption in Iceland which demonstrates the role science and engineering advice can play in civil contingency planning.
It is essential that policy-makers across government are able to draw on high quality, wide-ranging and robust evidence to enable informed decisionmaking. Together with an effective advisory process, this allows government to ensure that all opportunities are explored to their full potential and deal capably with emergencies.