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John Curnow

John Curnow

Chief Economist, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Policy Fellow, Centre for Science and Policy (CSaP)


John Curnow is Chief Economist at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), a post he has held since September 2016. John is responsible for ensuring Defra’s policies are informed by high quality economic analysis and advice.

From 2014 to 2016, John was Economics Director at the independent healthcare regulator, Monitor. Prior to this, John worked in a range of economics and strategy roles in the health sector and in central Government, including working at HM Treasury, DfT, DCLG and, earlier in his career, environmental tax and appraisal issues. John holds a first degree from the University of Exeter and an MSc in Economics from the University of Birmingham.


  • ways in which economists can think about environmental decision-making in a holistic, ‘system way’
  • economics and the environment
  • how to best take account of uncertainty (particularly on environmental outcomes) in decision-making
  • the relationship between natural capital and wider capital
  • accumulation