Net Zero Governance Programme

The research and activities under this programme aim to marshal SHAPE-led insights to clearly articulate why governance matters for net zero and examine how good governance can effectively direct, oversee and create accountability for organisations and institutions to contribute to the delivery of the UK commitments to achieving net zero by 2050.
Start date
Programme status

This British Academy Net Zero Governance Programme will marshal SHAPE-led, practical policy outputs that explore how improving the quality of governance can contribute to achieving net zero by 2050 in the UK. It aims to clearly articulate why governance matters on net zero by exploring relevant governance systems, structures and approaches, including the role of a range of actors from different layers of government to businesses, publics and civil society. It will examine how good quality, place-sensitive, multi-level governance can provide the tools to effectively direct, oversee and create accountability for organisations and institutions that have rightly taken responsibility for reaching net zero. Its contribution will be to develop practical policy outputs to support policymakers with insights into what they can do to apply good governance principles around net zero delivery.

Governance for net zero enablers
Enablers for net zero governance identified in the Governance for Net Zero report

Governance for Net Zero report

Governance for Net Zero

The 'Governance for Net Zero' report cautions that achieving net zero will require a focus on governance to facilitate the urgent and decisive action needed for the UK to reach its target.

Current research project

Learn more

The British Academy has made an award of £150,000 to the University of Bristol. The research project will develop a typology to classify net zero policies, translate these policies into local capability challenges and opportunities based on SHAPE synthesis, and provide policy evaluations derived from meta-level scoping to evidence successful precedents and delivery gaps identified in the synthesis.

The research project will start in May 2023 and will run until June 2024.

Earlier research outputs

Our initial research considered how can collaboration across sectors (public, third sector, business and local communities), foster shared commitments to goals, values and programmes to deliver net zero as part of a sustainable future? Researchers worked through a wide range of methods, engaging diverse people and places. It indicated a range of cross-cutting elements to consider: the importance of place (see below); the relationships between people, communities, institutions, and different modes of governance; the connections between different levels of governance; methods of engagement and communication; questions of inclusion and values; economic and financial considerations; and the types of skills and knowledge needed.

The nine research projects commissioned are listed below, each with its findings summarised in a policy summary. The abstracts of each project are also available.

Communities of Creative Survival: Live Simulation to Generate Grassroots Insight for Net-Zero Policy 

Dr Danielle Barrios-O'Neill

Royal College of Art

Policy Summary

Developing a Grassroots Sustainable Futures Platform: Collective Participation in a Community-Based Cultural Organisation 

Dr Lee Barron

Northumbria University

Policy Summary

The Great Community Climate Change Experiment: Using children from the community to promote meaningful sustainable actions

Professor Geoff Beattie and Dr Laura McGuire

Edge Hill University

Project Report

Attitudes Towards Climate Action 

Professor Sir Timothy Besley FBA  

London School of Economics and Political Science

Policy Summary

Collaborative Voices: drawing on cross-sector expertise in building community capacity and sustaining partnerships towards net-zero sustainability futures

Dr Jaya Gajparia

London South Bank University

Policy Summary

Co-designing sustainable food futures: using climate assemblies to build shared agri-food visions for net-zero

Professor Damian Maye

University of Gloucestershire

Policy Summary

Project output microsite

Community-Led Television, Local Voice and Climate Action

Dr Elke Weissmann

Edge Hill University

Policy Summary

Shifting the Narrative: Exploring the role of arts interventions in supporting communities in working across sectors to achieve place-based climate action 

Dr Alette Willis

University of Edinburgh

Policy Summary

Podcast - The power of traditional storytelling to shift our community narratives

Localising and decentralising goal-based governance for sustainability in England

Professor Jane Wills FBA

University of Exeter

Policy Summary

Research Paper (2023)

Contact us

If you require further information on this scheme or would like to engage with us, please contact Tuisku (Snow) Kolu on [email protected] or Henry Richards on [email protected].

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