The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has invested an impressive £1.3 million in an innovative project that Earthwatch, along with many UK universities and organisations, has been a part of.
The project plans to take a unique approach, combining citizen science with storytelling and community engagement, to enable a wide range of different communities to have a meaningful impact in environmental science issues. Climate change and pollution pose problems to everyone and this initiative aims to provide learning opportunities that will educate individuals to take leadership within their communities and enact change.
The investment, which is NERC’s largest one-off investment to date, comes as part of the NERC Engaging Environments programme, which supports ambitious projects to engage the UK public with contemporary environmental science issues on a national scale.
Dr Hilary Geoghegan, the lead academic on the NERC Community for Engaging Environments platform at the University of Reading, said:
“I'm very excited to continue working with communities across the UK, NERC researchers and our partners. We'll be developing our capacity to listen and exchange stories about the environment and environmental change to co-create and make environmental research meaningful and relevant. For the entire team, Engaging Environments is critically important, and offers the chance to transform public engagement with environmental research, to ensure it can make a real difference through learning with those traditionally marginalised from science, but most likely to be affected by environmental issues.”
By including a full range of different community types, it is hoped that the initiative will permeate into the national consciousness and contribute to environmental science issues.
Toos van Noordwijk, Director of Science, Policy and Innovation at Earthwatch, said:
“At Earthwatch we are very excited to be part of this innovative project and the opportunities it creates to empower people to address the huge environmental challenges of our times. We were involved in both first stage projects that have now come together to create a step-change in public engagement in environmental science. We have forged a wide partnership of universities, charities and social enterprises who are coming together to open up science for all. The NERC Community for Engaging Environments (NC4EE) will demonstrate how environmental science can be made accessible and relevant to communities across the UK and will include people from all walks of life as active partners from start to finish. This will help scientists to gather essential data that can inform policy and management decisions, while also engaging and motivating communities and providing them with the tools and knowledge to make a difference.”