ARCHIVE: Advocacy, voice and campaigning
On this page:
- Defra and third sector collaboration on greener living policy
- Defra and third sector collaboration on marine policy
- Defra supports rural advocacy at local level (Local Strategic Partnerships) and nationally (to Government)
- Defra listens to the voice of the consumer (food and farming)
Defra’s framework for pro-environmental behaviours pulls together a growing evidence base on public understanding and behaviour change, an environmental segmentation model and an assessment of the implications for policy, marketing and communications. These are based on a set of headline behaviour goals linked to the main consumption impacts arising from homes, shopping and travel. Since the framework is intended to be of benefit to a wide range of organisations including the third sector, we asked Green Alliance to help us work with stakeholders to review a long list of behaviours and refine it down to a short set of “headline” goals. This was managed through a series of stakeholder workshops convened and facilitated by Green Alliance during Autumn 2006. A final report presented their recommendations for the headline goals together with policy recommendations that were designed to help with the delivery of those goals.
The final set of headline goals, described in the published framework (January 2008), is based very closely on the Green Alliance recommendations. The involvement of a wide constituency of third sector bodies in the original workshops and in subsequent stakeholder events has helped to ensure that Defra’s work on behaviour change meets the needs of many of our potential users and has a stronger degree of buy-in than would otherwise be possible. Looking forward we are hoping to work further with the third sector in a programme of action based research, in implementing programmes and projects through the newthird sector greener living fund and in providing accessible, evidence-based advice and support.
The Marine and Freshwater Biodiversity Division in Defra works closely with anti-whaling third sector organisations and, in particular, collaborates with Defra’s work and cooperation within the International Whaling Commission . The anti-whaling third sector organisations liaise with Defra throughout the year and co-operate with them on issues such as International Whaling Commission recruitment, lobbying and co-ordinating protests against whaling nations.
Defra enjoys a productive liaison with the Wildlife and Countryside Link through the establishment of the Consultative Forum on Whaling, which provides a useful and effective advisory body.
Prior to the annual International Whaling Conference third sector organisations meet with Defra and Ministers to discuss their objectives and discuss joint tactics for the meeting. The best example of how Defra and third sector organisations co-operate is by co-opting two third sector organisations onto the UK delegation for the meeting. The NGOs offer advice (including technical expertise) and assistance to the delegation.
Nevertheless, the third sector organisations are able to maintain a high degree of independence; including continuing to lobby the UK and other Governments and produce papers that do not necessarily reflect the views of the UK Government.
Defra supports rural advocacy at local level (Local Strategic Partnerships) and nationally (to Government)
Defra recognises ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England) as a significant stakeholder in rural policy work. ACRE makes up part of the Rural Community Action Network (RCAN) - the collective name for the 38 Rural Community Councils (RCCs), their eight regional bodies and their national umbrella, ACRE . RCCs are charitable local development agencies, generally based at county level, which support and enable initiatives in rural communities.
ACRE aims to promote a healthy, vibrant and sustainable rural community sector that is well connected to policy and decision-makers who play a part in delivering this aim. It aims to influence organisations to take account of the needs of individuals and those involved in community action in rural areas. This advocacy work has a crucial role in helping Defra to deliver its Strong Rural Communities Departmental Strategic Objective which amounts to achieving for rural England what we want to achieve for all of England: thriving, vibrant, sustainable communities which will improve everyone's quality of life.
In effect, RCAN members are the organisations best able to represent rural community interests at the regional level and, more importantly, the sub-regional level through their involvement in Local Area Agreements. The new £3.45m annual grant funding between 2008/09 - 2010/11 is intended to ensure all RCAN members across England are able to work with local authorities, regional bodies and central government to ensure the needs of rural communities are understood and addressed at the local, regional and national levels.
This £10m Defra agreement with ACRE requires delivery of strategic influencing activity at local, regional and national level, with the aim of ensuring that rural communities benefit from relevant investment at those levels. RCAN members will, for example:
- ensure the representation of rural community needs in the development of sub-regional and regional strategies that have or should have, a significant impact on disadvantaged people in rural communities - including Local Area Agreements, Sustainable Community Strategies and the forthcoming single Regional Strategies;
- play a pivotal role in promoting and assisting behaviour changes in rural areas that contribute to the Government's climate change agenda;
- support the delivery in rural areas of the Government's new Public Service Agreements, especially those covering 'fairness and opportunity for all' and 'stronger communities and a better quality of life';
A strong focus is placed on influencing Local Strategic Partnerships and Local Area Agreements, to lever in appropriate resources that benefit rural priorities. RCAN members will also be working with a number of key stakeholders – the Government Offices, Commission for Rural Communities, the Regional Rural Affairs Fora and other public authorities and service providers such as the police, health service etc. Building up relationships with these organisations helps RCAN ensure the needs of their communities are understood and addressed at the local, regional and national levels. The agreement with RCAN began on 1 April 2008.
Following National Consumer Council advice about consumer involvement in Spring 2005, Defra brought in someone from the sector who:
- identified and segmented the organisations and representatives close to consumers and citizens
- has developed and implements with them new ways of working with Defra (such as use of plain English consumer cover sheets to consultations) to reduce barriers to their engagement and help meet their information needs
- supplements their views with public opinion data
- has created and maintains a consumer representatives’ group and a consumer section at www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/ahws/consumer/index.htm
Policy teams have responded to consumer representative suggestions. For example, feedback from consumer representatives during the foot and mouth outbreak influenced Defra’s advice to the public, including on the openness of the countryside, dog walking and use of footpaths.
Recognising that consumer representatives need to know where it is most worthwhile to spend their time, regular feedback is given on how their engagement makes a difference. For example, the combined support of industry and the consumers strengthened the UK's ability to negotiate some improvements to the welfare of meat producing chickens in the EU and to EU fruit and vegetable standards.
Defra has responded to the request for its meetings with consumer representatives to act as something of a one stop shop covering, for example, the carbon calculator and water policy. Other government departments have come along to help address broad issues such as consultation policy and capacity building.
The consumer representatives asked the Cabinet Office for Defra's regular meetings and the use of plain English cover sheets to summarise consumer issues in key consultations to be highlighted as examples of best practice.
Page last modified: 3 November 2008
Page published: 3 November 2008