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Citizen Engagement on the Environment

Community gardening
Published: July 2021

The UK faces a range of environmental challenges that require action to ensure the Government’s aims, set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan, are met. This study aimed to improve Defra’s understanding of people’s values and priorities for the environment and will generate options for taking these into account in environmental policymaking.

 Our work has produced a range of outputs concerned with citizen engagement with environmental policy making, including:

  • A Scoping Review
  • Research Briefing & Final Report
  • Practice Guide
  • Project Evaluation

Our research gives insight into public attitudes and values that will in the short term inform the current refresh of the 25YEP and highlights the benefits of direct engagement with citizens in navigating the challenges of implementing the 25 Year Environment Plan.  The final report available here details the public’s priorities for the environment, as well as their future visions and what role government and other actors should play in getting there.


The study had several key stages and used a range of methods to meet its aims:

  • A scoping review to identify key issues to consider in the project; including public attitudes to the environment and approaches to public engagement.
  • A training programme for experts who will be involved in the citizen engagement events
  • Distributed dialogue events where members of the public will be invited to participate in activities designed to generate discussion on environmental attitudes and priorities.  
  • A series of two-day public dialogues which will engage 150 citizens and invite them to deliberate on environmental issues alongside environmental experts.

The study took place between November 2018 and ­­­November 2020.


NatCen have undertaken the study in partnership with a consortium of organisations and individuals who possess the relevant methodological and substantive expertise:

Additional public dialogue facilitators:

  • Anna Marcinkiewicz
  • Helen McCarthy
  • Tom Barber

Download the report

  • On the blog

    Read public dialogue facilitator Helen McCarthy's blog post for World Environment Day.

    Go to the NatCen blog