OPEN Fellow – Gary Kass


Hons degree in Environmental Science; Masters degree in Environmental Management, Chartered Scientist, Fellow of the Institution of Environmental Sciences, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society; Visiting Professor, University of Surrey

Interests & Passions

My key passion is helping others which I manifest through my work and voluntary activities and through my family.


Gary Kass is a professional sustainability scientist and knowledge broker, with 35 years’ practice in the public and private sectors, working at the interface of science and policy. He champions forward-looking, systemic and interdisciplinary approaches to using science and evidence to tackle critical environmental and sustainability challenges. After a period of consulting, Gary joined the public sector in 1995 as Head of the Environment and Energy programme at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology and then Head of Public Engagement with Science and Technology within the UK Government. Gary joined Natural England in 2007 as Principal Specialist in Strategy and Environmental Futures and became Deputy Chief Scientist in 2014. Gary has served on academic panels and boards including the Natural Environment Research Council’s Innovation Advisory Board and the Research Excellence Framework. Gary is a Visiting Professor at the Centre for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Surrey where he supports development of key competencies for sustainability. Gary held a Cambridge Centre for Science and Policy Fellowship, 2011-2013 and was Council member and then Chair of Institution of Environmental Sciences from 2014 until 2021. Gary is a Chartered Scientist and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Why am I an OPEN fellow?

I am an OPEN fellow because I believe wholeheartedly that embedding the Key Competencies for Sustainability is a prerequisite for effective sustainability innovation and practice. We cannot develop or implement sustainability solutions without the necessary underpinning competencies and in particular (based on my own practice) competences related to anticipation (foresight) and systems thinking.

How can I help change agents?

I can provide first-hand insight form 30 years working at the interface of science and policy in the field of environment and sustainability. I can help change agents understand the opportunities and risks involved and help them to understand the constraints that many work under that could hinder change; but also offer strategies to overcoming barriers; enhancing personal and organsiational strengths and tackling weaknesses. I can provide experience in foresight and systems thinking, helping to develop big-picture and forward-looking perspectives and I can help build systemic understanding and enhance collaborative learning.

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