Student Fellowship

Unlocking Environmental Action: Using Engagement Insight to Shape Action

Project Area:

Climate Action


West of England Combined Authority, England

Reporting to:

Senior Environment Manager, Energy

The Challenge

Taking local action on the global challenge of climate change and the ecological crisis is on Mayor Dan Norris’ manifesto of commitments and a strategic priority for the region. The mayor sees resident engagement and collective action as central to addressing this crisis. Across the city region, individual businesses and partnerships are working with customers and communities to assess both their understanding of the climate challenge and their willingness to act. City leaders propose to work with these organizations and draw on their knowledge and engagement feedback to inform an effective regional conversation to support planning for collective action. Climate change will first impact the most vulnerable populations, which will be least able to adapt. City leaders recognize the importance of engaging them early using innovative methods and a “take it to the people” approach, as well as outlining their role in shaping local and regional solutions as critical to overall success. There are community engagement initiatives already underway in the region, which will need to be closely linked into this work.

The West of England has set the goal to decarbonize by 2030. And the region has already made significant interventions such as Clean Air Zones (which limit certain car journeys or charge for access to certain areas of the city), and engagement before and after these interventions will help in understanding changing resident opinions. A review of interventions and conversations to date will create a network and evidence base, which will be made freely available both to encourage more input and to build a better understanding of the consequences of climate action/inaction. A Net Zero ambition will require significant changes to be made by all residents of the region. Building a picture of their interest and understanding of climate change, what they are willing to do, their expertise, their motivations, and incentives to support change will be key to a successful transition to Net Zero. 

The Summer Fellow will analyze and compile data covering multiple environment engagement programs conducted by a variety of regional partners, to inform future environmental engagement approaches. Working closely with the combined authority’s Communications and Engagement, Strategy, Transport and Environment teams, the fellow will help the City Region answer the following key questions:

  • What motivates residents to change their behavior? 
  • What are their priorities and where do they align with climate change needs? 
  • What are residents willing to change in their daily lives to help tackle the climate crisis? 
  • What information is currently missing from existing engagement feedback?
  • Which sections of the community have not been engaged and who have we not heard from?
  • What do residents/business customers understand about climate change and their role in tackling it?
  • What specific actions are residents willing to do/change? 
  • What incentives might help to encourage both engagement and action?

What You’ll Do

To address these questions, the fellow will engage a range of stakeholders including regional partnerships/key businesses and their projects to gather current customer and resident views on climate change. This would be both an analysis of feedback received, data collected, and conversations had to date but would also include follow up and initial interviews with key stakeholders. Key deliverables include:

  1. The Evidence Base: A collated and accessible summary of the data collected and stakeholders engaged in the exercise;
  2. A key messages & recommendations document: Informed by analysis of data gathered to date and additional data collection and stakeholder interviews, this document will synthesize and align the key learnings from the multiple efforts underway (and will serve as a barometer for where people are on some of the key questions identified above) that could form the basis for a multi-year engagement strategy. The success of this work will be whether partners and the Combined Authority can update the data to ensure that it is a catalyst for improved ongoing engagement with an understanding of residents.
  3. Presentation to the Mayor, internal and regional stakeholders (including the Mayors Climate Panel), and potentially the M10 group of Metro Mayoral Combined Authorities from across the UK.

What You’ll Bring

The fellow will be expected to possess the following skills:

  • Data analysis
  • Qualitative interviewing and analysis
  • Design thinking
  • Stakeholder engagement and management

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