Grand Challenges

Grand Challenges

To ensure that we meet our mission, to respond to urgent social issues and bring about positive change, we have identified a set of Grand Challenges that give extra focus to our work.  The Grand Challenges were launched with our 2020 – 2025 Strategic Plan, and will be reviewed  every two years, looking within and beyond Scotland to decide key priorities. We described our aspirations for these challenges in this Friends of The Scotsman article.

For 2020-2022, our Grand Challenges are:

Scotland’s people can thrive

Scotland is inclusive, welcomes diversity, and provides equality of opportunity.

Our strategic action plan in this area includes:

  • Initiating blogs, meetings and training to co-design solutions (business, government, YAS members and other researchers)
  • Responsible Debate Series for Leadership for Health and Inequalities to create public awareness and support for reducing health inequalities, enhanced by the co- activities to inspire a future generation of Scots
  • Online platform to map the research projects/public engagement initiatives in the field and to serve an online knowledge-exchange agency between YAS members, researchers, governmental bodies & organisations

There is not currently a lead for this Grand Challenge.

A well-informed society

Promoting a society where collective decisions are made based on evidence and constructive discussion.

This topic cuts across almost all of YAS’s work, and the promotion of informed decision-making – whether this involves understanding the environmental impact of our individual choices, or how these decisions might affect our health and well-being as well as that of of those around us – will be crucial to many of the other Grand Challenges. We plan to run projects in association with other Themes and Grand Challenges to increase societal awareness of specific issues, as well as general projects that will promote better interpretation and discussion of information in all settings.

Kitty Meeks and Jess Enright  are the current leads for this Grand Challenge.

Increasing Scotland’s positive role in the world

Making an impact in the world, forging and maintaining international links, and sharing and gaining knowledge.

John-Robert Eunson and Henry Lovat are the current leads on the Grand Challenge.


Ending health inequalities

Improving the health of everyone across the lifespan and ending health inequality based on income, gender, sexuality, race, disability, age, and sex.

The COVID pandemic has highlighted the stark reality of health inequalities in Scotland and across the globe. Through this grand challenge, YAS hopes to explore the societal issues that result in these inequalities, not only within the health sector but also in business, the environment and education. We aim to develop recommendations and interventions that will create a more equal society for all.

Jackie Maybin is the current lead on the Grand Challenge.


Zero carbon by 2045

Scotland achieves its net zero emissions target and leads in the international effort to tackle climate change.

Leslie Mabon is the current lead on this Grand Challenge.