The Strategy Room: an innovative approach for involving communities in shaping local net zero pathways

Report by Nesta: “Between January and March 2023, we piloted a novel digital engagement tool, The Strategy Room, to help local authorities understand their residents’ priorities for net-zero policies on the topics of heat, travel and food.

Twelve local authorities ran 66 public engagement sessions between them, attracting almost 640 participants to make policy recommendations for their local areas. This report presents the preliminary results from the pilot study….

Our results show the value of experimenting with new tools for public engagement on net zero that can combine local specificity and comparisons at a national level. To support other similar initiatives in the future and build public support for the policies that will help the UK to transition to net zero by 2050, decision makers should consider the following.

Change how they commission public engagement

Establishing a Citizen Participation Service in the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero to coordinate and channel resources to local climate teams would help demonstrate the governments’ commitment to putting people at the centre of net-zero policy.

Change how they frame and communicate net-zero policies

Use creative public engagement that allows people to deliberate and learn about policies through interactive, engaging material. Communicate the wider co-benefits of net-zero policies. In particular, emphasise general benefits related to health as well as incorporating people’s current concerns like energy insecurity into messaging.

Change how they tailor net-zero policy at national and local levels

The UK Government needs to lead by example with strategic commitments to help councils decarbonise the housing stock and food supplies they’re responsible for, if it expects people to change how they heat their homes and the food they eat…(More)”.