Southampton appoints UK’s first local authority Chief Scientific Adviser
A unique partnership between Southampton City Council and the University of Southampton has seen the appointment of what is believed to be the first local authority Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) post in the UK.
Professor AbuBakr Bahaj, Head of the University’s Energy and Climate Change Division, has taken on the role to champion science and engineering as a key driver of the economy and ensure the city uses science effectively in all policy-making.
Professor Bahaj will provide the council with expertise on relevant environmental issues, such as the energy efficiency of buildings, where decisions have to be made on whether to retain and ‘greenwall’ existing housing stock to improve thermal efficiency. It is hoped that the partnership will be extended into other areas of the council’s and University’s work.
The leader of Southampton City Council Dr Richard Williams will also sit on two University panels, one to support research delivery and the other the scientific advisory panel for mostly EU-funded projects.
Professor Bahaj says: “I’m pleased to be taking up this post at a crucial time for cities. Our aim will be focussed on tackling future challenges encountered within cities, such as how a city could operate under a changing climate and resource depletion and the environmental, social and economic impacts of these changes. The University has some of the world’s best engineers and scientists who are working to tackle these challenges and I am proud to be part of the city’s thriving scientific community.”
Councillor Williams says: “Excellence in science and engineering is critical to Southampton’s prosperity and well-being. I am delighted that we have been able to appoint an engineer of Professor Bahaj’s stature and experience to provide advice and support to the City at this critical time. His role will be crucial in the future development of the city. Southampton is brimming with ideas and the University has unique skills to help us as a Council make our future greener and brighter. ”
The Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Sir John Beddington, adds: “I am delighted that Southampton City Council has decided to follow the example set across central Government departments and appoint a Chief Scientific Adviser. The role of science and engineering in society and the economy is more important than ever, and Professor Bahaj will have a key role ensuring that policy makers in the local authority take decisions that make best use of scientific and engineering advances and evidence. I hope that other local authorities will follow the example of Southampton and collaborate with leading universities in their own region in this way.”