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Citizen engagement on the environment - BE0141

This project aims to undertake a programme of citizen engagement to improve understanding of what people value in the environment and their priorities, in order to inform environmental policy, implementation and delivery.

The need to improve our understanding of the public’s values and priorities springs from exciting and complex developments within environmental policy:

I. In its recently published 25 Year Environment Plan (25YEP) , the Government sets out an ambitious environmental agenda across a wide range of policy areas, aiming for cleaner air and water, richer habitats for wildlife, connecting people to the environment and an approach to agriculture and land use which puts the environment first.
ii. Underpinning the 25YEP is the ‘natural capital approach’, which seeks to value the indirect and direct benefits offered by the natural environment for people and the country at large.
iii. The decision to leave the European Union (EU) creates new opportunities and challenges, including in the area of environmental policy. Defra Secretary of State, Michael Gove, has called this an ‘unfrozen moment’ which provides an opportunity to reshape our policies on a host of environmental issues – including agriculture, land use, biodiversity, woodlands, marine conservation, fisheries, pesticides, chemicals regulation, animal welfare, habitat management, waste, water purity, air quality and others.
iv. In July 2018 the Prime Minister announced that the Government will bring forward the first Environment Bill in over 20 years. This builds on the 25YEP, setting out what the Government are doing to improve the environment for the next generation.

In this context, implementation of the Government’s environmental agenda is complex, and will involve many decisions over a significant period of time. In order to inform those decisions and achieve the Government’s objectives, environmental policy development, implementation and delivery will require good understanding of public attitudes, values and behaviours, and identify synergies and trade-offs.

This citizen engagement project will provide an opportunity to explore these issues across some of the above policy areas, and consider mechanisms and approaches for taking these into account in environmental policy and decision-making at a range of spatial scales.
- Conduct a scoping study and evidence review to prepare for the programme of citizen engagement. This will identify and prioritise key issues to consider as part of the project, and identify relevant evidence to inform engagement events. The findings from the scoping study and evidence review should be included in an interim report;
- Design a series of citizen engagement events, including selection of areas in which to hold events;
- Develop and implement a robust recruitment strategy. Overall, the citizen engagement should include participants who are representative of the wider population in relation to age, gender and other key socio-demographic variables, as well as in relation to interest in and knowledge of environmental issues;
- Run high quality citizen engagement events, with high levels of participant satisfaction and levels of retention through the process if relevant;
- Enable participants to engage with a range of evidence on complex topics relevant to environmental policy, implementation and delivery; question it and challenge it where appropriate to inform their own view; discuss and deliberate; and express their priorities for action;
- Citizen engagement events should enable the value of a wide range of different aspects of the environment to be considered. This should include consideration of both local and more distant green spaces and environments;
- Record discussion and deliberation at events effectively and analyse the material generated robustly, to feed into high quality research reports setting out the findings from the project;
- Based on findings from the project, present options for taking public attitudes, values and priorities into account in environmental policy and decision-making at a range of spatial scales; and
- In addition to the Government’s agenda, the project will support implementation of Natural England’s conservation strategy, Conservation 21. In particular, citizen engagement will inform ‘putting people at the heart of the environment’, one of the three guiding principles of the strategy.
Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : 210811 CEE briefing   (351k)
• FRP - Final Report : 210811 CEE Evaluation Summary Report   (233k)
• FRP - Final Report : 210811 CEE Practice Guide   (3867k)
• FRP - Final Report : 210811 Citizen Engagement on the Environment report FINAL   (2238k)
• FRP - Final Report : CEE Report   (982k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2018

To: 2020

Cost: £352,177
Contractor / Funded Organisations
National Centre For Social Research
Social Research