Understanding the role of place in environmental sustainability

by The British Academy

Front page of 'Understanding the role of place in environmental sustainability' report
Number of pages

Executive summary

In 2022, the British Academy commissioned six projects that examined various facets of environmental sustainability using a place-sensitive lens. This report synthesises this evidence base and brings together insights to help stakeholders better understand the role of place-sensitive policymaking and its application to environmental sustainability. In doing so,  it examines how engaging with people in the places where they live leads to better and more effective and efficient policymaking in practice, reflecting the diversity of communities and local environments.

Running through all the research is the conclusion that environmental sustainability across a range of specific issues is underpinned by place-sensitive policymaking that is inclusive, forward-looking and adaptive. This approach recognises and builds on the diversity of places, and how that manifests in tangible (built and natural environment, infrastructure) and intangible (plurality of people, culture, beliefs and relationships) factors. The report highlights five inter-connected themes that demonstrate the features of place-sensitive policymaking that support this approach:

  • Environmental knowledge and education
  • Language and a discourse that resonates
  • Long-term trusted and inclusive relationships and partnerships
  • Nested governance mechanisms and spaces
  • Delegated power and resources

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