Published on 23 March 2023
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Researchers inform urgent call to renew and protect nature

The People’s Plan for Nature sets out the public’s recommendations for reversing shocking declines in nature.

The first ever UK-wide citizens’ assembly for nature has published its recommendations for renewing and protecting our natural environment, calling for urgent and immediate action from every part of society.

The plan calls for a fundamental change in how we value nature in the UK, including making sure nature is included in all levels of decision-making. It says there must be ‘no more harm to nature’ and demands stronger legislation and clear targets.

Dr Matthew Agarwala, Economist at the Bennett Institute for Public Policy, was one of the leading experts invited to brief the Assembly, on The Economics of Biodiversity: How nature is accounted for (or not) within the current economic model and who pays? 

“The People’s Assembly represents a new way to mobilise democracy for the protection of Nature. The Plan reveals an informed view of the trade-offs – between environmental, market, and social goals – and articulates specific calls to action for citizens, businesses, and government. No one is off the hook. This is the Peoples’ Plan,” says Agarwala, who leads the Bennett Institute’s Wealth Economy Projects.

The People’s Plan for Nature aims to protect and restore nature by challenging governments, businesses, charities, communities, and individuals with a public demand for immediate and lasting change.

Among the top calls to action are:

  • All commercial and policy decisions to take into account potential impacts on nature
  • An overhaul of current farming subsidy systems to prioritise sustainable and nature-friendly farming
  • Greater government accountability through a permanent Assembly for Nature made up of NGOs, industry and public expertise

The plan is the result of several months of discussions by members of the public via a unique citizen engagement process. It included an open call for ideas on how to save nature, which received 30,000 responses, and a citizens’ assembly made up of 100 people from all four nations of the UK and all walks of life. After hearing from 40 experts from academia, business, and charities, the assembly came together to find common ground on the action needed to reverse the shocking declines.

Other calls to action include:

  • Access to nature to be recognised as a human right.
  • A universal quality standard label in supermarkets showing the source and nature impact of products to help consumers make nature-friendly choices.
  • The urgent restoration of all rivers and wetlands, investment in wastewater infrastructure, and the establishment of Marine National Parks.
  • Cross-party commitment to future farming practices that help nature, and incentives for farmers to farm sustainably and help them through this transition.
  • A national conversation on how and why we should change our diet to support nature, and food hubs to help people access local produce.

The citizens’ assembly was run independently by Involve, an organisation that develops new ways to involve people in decisions that affect their lives, and the Sortition Foundation, who specialise in selecting participants to take part in these kinds of events. An independent panel with representatives drawn from different sectors provided input to ensure the process was fair, balanced and well-informed. It was convened by the National Trust, the RSPB and WWF to give the public a clear say on how to solve the nature crisis.

The assembly now hopes to create a groundswell of support and is calling for people to back the People’s Plan for Nature by adding their voice at Governments, businesses, communities and charities are also being urged to respond to the recommendations to deliver transformative change.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the Bennett Institute for Public Policy.

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