As a Green Party peer, one of three parliamentarians from our party across both Houses, I’m engaged across a broad spectrum of UK legislation, regulation and policy. But there are some issues that deserve deeper and longer attention than others – particularly those that the government really seems to have taken their eye off. That’s definitely the case with antimicrobial resistance and the broader One Health agenda, which has fallen onto the backburner since David Cameron was Prime Minister.
As one of few parliamentarians with a scientific background, I’m reasonably equipped to work at a technical level on this issue. Having the support of Julius and Emily will help me dig deeper and hold the government to account. But I also see the internship programme as having another, important role.
Both in the scientific community and amongst the public, there’s far too little understanding about how government actually works. Embedding scholars in the process, allowing them to feed into it and see it at the battlefront level, is a way of spreading knowledge and understanding
I have a saying that politics should be what everyone does, rather than it being done to them. Getting more scientists involved in politics is crucial – and that’s where I anticipate this programme will really shine.
“Through my experiences in academia and community conservation, I’ve been very fortunate to have seen the impact that both world-leading research and grassroots conservation can have on society. I am excited to join this new avenue to create change, and for the unique opportunity to witness how research can inform policy, especially concerning antimicrobial resistance – one of the greatest threats to modern medicine and biosecurity.
“Not only am I grateful for the chance to contribute to this important agenda and develop my own abilities, but I am also motivated to take all that I learn from this experience and communicate this to my peers and the community. With this role, I hope to raise the importance of addressing the threats of AMR in One Health settings besides the clinic, and highlight improvements to the ways in which antimicrobial micropollutants are monitored and assessed in terms of environmental risk.”
“I believe that the ultimate measure of research impact is when my research is used in developing policies and programmes that could positively change people’s lives. I see this Parliamentary Internship as an opportunity to do that by sharing my skills in translating evidence to context-based policy recommendations; sharing our work on pharmaceutical pollution to inform UK policies and advocating for sustainable healthcare.
“As a person of colour who has first-hand experience on the impacts of climate change, this internship is also a platform to represent our voice in the British policy landscape because there is no doubt that the decisions we make here in the UK have impacts on Global South communities. I also hope that this internship could be my way of giving back to the people of the UK by ensuring that the policies created here are reflective of their ideals especially in safeguarding human and planetary health.”
Natalie Bennett is one of two Green Party peers in the House of Lords, with particular interests in soil, ecosystems microbiomes and general public health. Her first degree was in agricultural science and she spent 20 years working as a journalist, including five as editor of the Guardian Weekly. She spent five years in Bangkok, including with the Thai National Commission on Women’s Affairs.
Emily Stevenson is a second-year PhD student with the University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory, researching microplastics as vectors of antimicrobial resistance in aquatic systems. She is also the co-founder of the award-winning marine conservation NGO: Beach Guardian.
Julius is a health promotion specialist and previously worked as a civil servant in the Philippines. He was involved in coordinative, health and nutrition planning, and policy development at different government and non-government organisations. Currently, he is a PhD candidate in Built Environment and a Hydro Nation scholar of the Scottish Government at Glasgow Caledonian University and The James Hutton Institute. His research on sustainable healthcare focuses on developing an environmentally friendly prescribing strategy for NHS Scotland’s mental healthcare, guided by environmental risk profiles of antidepressants, and using nature-based (blue space) social prescribing. Julius completed his MSc in Public Health and Health Promotion (with Distinction) at Bangor University in Wales as a Chevening scholar and obtained his BSc in Nutrition at the University of the Philippines.