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Natural Benefits - Social Research Meeting, Birmingham & Midland Institute. Simon Maxwell 18th November 2009. Social researchers in Defra (1). Defra is organised by ‘career homes’ GSR are within the Economics, Statistics and Research career home: Headed by Richard Price (Chief Economist)

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natural benefits social research meeting birmingham midland institute

Natural Benefits - Social Research Meeting,Birmingham & Midland Institute

Simon Maxwell

18th November 2009

social researchers in defra 1
Social researchers in Defra (1)

Defra is organised by ‘career homes’

GSR are within the Economics, Statistics and Research career home:

Headed by Richard Price (Chief Economist)

Laura represents GSR on the 12 strong SCS career home senior leadership group

About 200 analysts (economists, statisticians, operational and social researchers)

GSR researchers work in different inter-disciplinary teams...

social researchers in defra 2
Social researchers in Defra (2)

Adapting to Climate Change

(Jo)

Embedded inter-disciplinary policy team. Key focus - climate change risk assessment

Analytical teams we work with:

Sustainable Behaviours Unit

(Andrea, Kirsten (Head – marketing and insight) & Jan & one vacant SRO)

Free-standing social research and marketing team embedded in policy division. Works across Defra and supports wider Whitehall.

Key successes – behaviours survey, segmentation model, environmental behaviours framework, action-based research, research centre, comprehensive research programme.

Operational Researchers

(about 10)

Strategy and Evidence

(Laura and Rachel)

Central support and analysis team. Strategy headed by SCS economist; Evidence by SCS scientist. HoP will be based here. Key focus – public value programme, Evidence Investment Strategy, Living with Environmental Change and links with Research Councils; Social Impacts; behaviours.

Natural / Vet Scientists

(about 200)

Economists

(about 60)

Environment and Rural Group

(Simon)

Semi-embedded analytical team (mainly economists headed by SCS economist). Key focus - ecosystem services, participatory and deliberative methods, social research evidence review, social impacts of fishing

Statisticians

(about 60)

Food and Farming (Tony)

Semi-embedded analytical team (mainly economists and statisticians headed by SCS econs and stats). Key focus – farmer behaviours, attitudes, qualitative research to support all policy areas.

Marketing and

Comms

how we work in summary
How we work in summary

SBU – centre of expertise (social research and marketing) to support policy across Defra, focus on research commissioning and investment. Influential in shaping policy and providing a robust evidence base.

Semi-embedded teams (Tony and Simon) – policy advice and undertake research for range of areas within groups. Focus on research advice and inter-disciplinary work with others (economists, statisticians and scientists)

Embedded team (Jo) – focussed inter-disciplinary analysis to support one key policy area

Central team (Rachel and Laura) – setting strategic direction at highest levels, leading on adding analytical value, partnership building and inter-disciplinary working

Key strengths of GSR team – working together as team, focus on policy influence, working with and through others e.g. inter-disciplinary research

drawing on existing evidence to inform policy
Drawing on existing evidence to inform policy

Understanding Behaviours in a Farming Context: Bringing theoretical and applied evidence together from across Defra and highlighting policy relevance and implications for future research (November 2008)

Public Attitudes to Agriculture, the Farmed Landscape and Natural Environment: Drawing on published surveys to provide some observations about public priorities, concerns and implications for policy making (May 2009)

  • On-going cross-cutting work:
  • Social impacts: Developing a framework to assess the impacts of policy on different groups in society
  • Social capital : Importance for sustainability appraisal (opportunity for social research to link with economics)
  • Understanding behaviours: Suite of work to strengthen the people-focus within policy
illustrative exemplars of policy influencing research
Illustrative exemplars of policy-influencing research
  • Policy review research: Social justice in the context of flood and coastal erosion risk management: a review of policy and practice.
  • Customer insight (segmentation models): Farmer (developed 2008); Fishing (developed 2009); Environmental behaviours (public) (developed 2007); business (in development).
  • Evidence base research (building the research base): SCP / SBU research programmes e.g. testing behaviour theory (habits; catalyst behaviours) and public understandings series.
  • Policy-focussed research (responding directly to policy need): public understanding of sustainable clothing (directly led to policy ‘roadmap’); farming in the uplands.
outline of ongoing planned social research in erg
Outline of ongoing / planned social research in ERG
  • Environment and Rural Group (ERG) policy areas include: biodiversity; domestic climate change adaptation; ecosystem services; flood risk management; marine and fisheries; people and landscapes; rural affairs; water availability and quality ...
  • Ongoing / planned social research includes:- Social research evidence review to inform natural environment policy- Participatory approaches to ecosystem services decision-making- Social impacts of fishing- Advice and other support, e.g., Citizen engagement with the natural environment; FCERM, Biodiversity and Rural Research Programmes ...
social research evidence review to inform natural environment policy 1
Social research evidence review to inform natural environment policy (1)
  • Aim is to ensure that key social research findings from a broad evidence base are accessible to natural environment policy and decision makers in ERG
  • Research team will conduct a brief overview of social research in ERG policy areas, then determine 2-3 key areas and/or challenges on which to focus, which may be cross-cutting
  • The review will include social research which focuses directly on the policy issues and challenges identified, and draw on social research from other policy domains where this will improve understanding of key aspects of programme design and delivery
social research evidence review to inform natural environment policy 2
Social research evidence review to inform natural environment policy (2)
  • The project is intended to deliver a range of high quality, policy-relevant reports and briefings in different formats for different audiences
  • Study is expected to commence in November 2009 and will be completed within 12 months
  • Contract is intended to inform development of the social research function in ERG over the coming 12-24 months
  • We have asked for costed options to cover additional key areas and/or challenges within the 12 month contract period, and retained the option to extend contract by 12 months to cover further policy areas and/or challenges
participatory approaches to ecosystem services decision making
Participatory approaches to ecosystem services decision-making
  • Joint NESU/NEE project in part following actions identified in ‘Securing a healthy natural environment: an action plan for embedding an ecosystems approach’ (Defra, 2007)
  • Project aims to review participatory approaches to ecosystem services decision-making and produce guidelines to help decision-makers and analysts use appropriate methods
  • Project will seek to establish the contribution that participatory techniques can make to improve the way in which non-monetary costs and benefits are taken into account in valuation and appraisal
  • Study will focus on key points in policy and decision-making processes that impact on ecosystem services
citizen engagement with the natural environment segmentation
Citizen engagement with the natural environment segmentation
  • Aim is to develop a preliminary segmentation model of citizen engagement with the natural environment
  • Primary focus will be on attitudes and behaviours around accessing and enjoying the natural environment
  • Segmentation will identify the specific needs, requirements and preferences of various groups to enable us to focus our efforts on making the natural environment more interesting, accessible and relevant to all
  • Three main methodological components:- Evidence review- Quantitative analysis of MENE survey and other datasets- In-depth qualitative research with citizens, in order to develop a better understanding of attitudes, experiences, motivations and behaviour
  • Timescale: November 2009 to March 2010
some observations
Some observations …
  • High interest in social research - but potential for lots of small projects, and fragmented approach
  • Opportunities?- Integrated and holistic approach where appropriate, esp for complex analytical problems, involving collaboration between analysts, across government and with delivery partners, and between academic disciplines- Public understanding, and citizen and stakeholder engagement- Implementation and delivery - working with stakeholders- Evaluation, e.g., process and outcome evaluation; what works, for whom, in what circumstances and why?
conclusions and next steps
Conclusions and next steps
  • Balance between reactive and proactive, and between externally commissioned research and internal analysis
  • Make good use of existing external evidence and expertise, e.g., expert workshops, REAs, systematic reviews
  • Collaborative approach between analysts, across government and with delivery partners, etc
  • We’d welcome comments and ideas ...