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Managing environment threats with AI

Multi-disciplinary research themes have been present at Brunel since the 1980s and the benefits of collaboration between departments continue to be made today. Combining a knowledge of operations research and information systems with practical business models, university researchers were able to create a modelling framework for overseeing climate change, influencing British environmental policy.

Brunel Professors Amir Sharif and Zahir Irani, who have combined expertise in operations management, sustainable business operations and decision making, utilised their expertise to apply an artificial intelligence technique to the work of the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), as part of its forecasting strategy related to the European Union'sCommon Agricultural Policy 2014-2020. Using causal modelling - via the Fuzzy Cognitive Mapping technique - Profs Sharif and Irani facilitated the creation of simulation scenarios so that Defra researchers and policymakers could explore how factors such as the effects of economic subsidies and greenhouse gas emissions might impact upon the UK farming industry. Forecasting how climate change - and new Eurozone policies - would influence the UK farming industry and UK citizens, Defra was equipped with a new problem-solving approach that could help improve the management of such emerging risks and opportunities.

Defra statisticians and economists have acknowledged the benefit of using this research to further explore the driving factors that could lead to the reduction of greenhouse gases from the farming sector.