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How can local residents in 25 communities in all four corners of the UK have greater ownership of net zero decisions?

Published on

20 May 2024


The path to net zero is not without its obstacles and can often face resistance. We believe that to address public scepticism, polarisation and resistance to net zero implementation you need to give citizens a significant voice in, and great ownership of, net zero decisions from the outset. To this end we will be working with 25 local authorities to support them to work with citizens, communities and interested parties to create a clear sense of direction for their place and build their understanding and confidence to engage the public long term.

Involve is partnering with Forum for the FutureIpsos, and Quantum Strategy and Technology Ltd. on a major, UK wide project to help local authorities engage their citizens on how to get to Net Zero. The project aims to support local authorities across the Country to create a citizen vision for their area that guides their decision making so that it is based on what people want.

This is part of the Innovate UK Net Zero Living programme that provides support to local authorities, their partners and communities to overcome systemic barriers to the scaling and adoption of net zero solutions. A group of ‘Fast Follower Local Authorities’ are being offered advice on a range of aspects from policy to planning, financing to data as part of this. We will help them engage citizens effectively in the journey to net zero — combining training, research and practical delivery. 

Drawing on citizens juries and participatory futures methods, we will be using a new approach called ‘citizen visioning’. We will identify hopes and fears for the future of each place, and how net zero strategies can align. The focus of the project will be working with local authorities to develop a vision for net zero that responds to local needs and priorities, and what makes each place unique. This will enable Councils to develop their net zero programmes with greater confidence and deliver co-benefits that communities welcome. The approach is designed to feed into real life decision making, connecting to wider strategies and activities, for maximum impact. For those local authorities who are already engaging their residents, we will build from where they are to support wider community conversations and ongoing strategies to keep citizens engaged and able to hold their decision makers accountable. We will also be building sustainable local capacity for ongoing engagement, through recruiting and training local associates to join our teams, prioritising under-represented groups.

Thriving Places Citizen Visioning and Engagement will deliver impact through building capacity in Local Authorities and communities; delivering clear, future-proofed visions of a just and sustainable net zero transition that citizens have ownership of; and ensuring net zero plans respond to real citizen needs. We will also be capturing learning and creating insights and resources to share widely. 

This is an exciting, far-reaching project for Involve and its partners and we are really looking forward to working alongside a variety of local authorities and communities to achieve far reaching net zero solutions that are inclusive, just and work for communities.

If you are interested in finding out more about the project, please contact Emily Tulloh at [email protected]