Celebrating yesterday can help create a better tomorrow

Picture of plants growing out of the soil, increasing in size with a lightbulb at the end

David Parfrey, chief executive of Norwich Research Park, says we are in need of the rapid application of new learning from past discovery if we are to make our world sustainable for future generations - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

David Parfrey, chief executive of Norwich Research Park, discusses how learning from the past is important when shaping a new future. 

How often have we heard accusations that we’re ‘living in the past’, or being told to ‘live for tomorrow’? For many, the past brings safety and certainty, whilst the future brings risk and, perhaps, the fear of the unknown.

There is no doubt that the things we enjoy and take for granted today would not have been possible without the actions, intellect and bravery of those who came before us - the great thinkers, inventors, artists, scientists and innovators.  

We often recognise these occasions by celebrating their anniversaries, ensuring these past events are shared with those who are too young to remember them. 

David Parfrey, chief executive of Norwich Research Park

David Parfrey, chief executive of Norwich Research Park - Credit: Joe Lenton

The learning we gain from past events, past acts and past knowledge enable us to do new things, take new steps or grow our own knowledge to help craft a new future.  

Science is a great example of this. The greatest of scientific discoveries have led to further discoveries that have benefited humankind. Now more than ever, we are in need of the rapid application of new learning from past discovery if we are to make our world sustainable for future generations.  

As a society we are becoming more aware of our own vulnerability, and the vulnerability of our planet. You just have to think of climate change, feeding a rapidly growing population and, of course, pandemics, as three major global challenges we are facing.  

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With the UN COP26 Climate Change Conference happening now in our country, it gives us the opportunity to take a lead and allow the science to inform our decision making about how we collaborate as a global community to protect our people and planet for the future.  

We are fortunate at Norwich Research Park to have some of the leaders in their fields on topics like climate change, developing crop resistance and improving yields, nutrition and diet and healthy ageing. And we have businesses that are turning this ground-breaking science into scalable solutions that will make a difference to communities around the world. 

Our hope is for a more sustainable world in all ways, a world with shared values and shared opportunities. Celebrating past achievements is good, but it gains real power when it informs learning to create a better tomorrow.  

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