The governance of NbS includes the structures that guide decisions about people and nature, shaping the success or failure of NbS implementation. Understanding these governance processes relies on robust, interdisciplinary social science evidence.

Engagement is a key part of governance and is essential for fostering more collaborative, participatory and democratic solutions for nature recovery and NbS. Effective engagement is a dynamic force that can bring diverse groups and individuals together to deliver more effective environmental outcomes. It can be harnessed to develop the decision-making processes that are needed to help deliver multiple, integrated benefits for nature, people and climate.

To help practitioners harness the power of engagement for environmental governance and decision-making, we have co-designed the Recipe for Engagement (RfE), a new flexible guide which can be applied to different types of nature recovery and NbS projects. Although there is a range of existing guidance on engagement, we found that there is a lack of specific knowledge and support for how to leverage evidence-led, best practice engagement for governing NbS.

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Recipe for Engagement

Introducing the Recipe for Engagement (RfE)

Engagement is a process by which individuals, groups and organisations choose to take an active role in decisions which affect them. It includes a range of ways to involve relevant parties including farmers and land managers, non-governmental organisations, charities, businesses, investors, local authorities, government bodies, members of the public and local communities.

The RfE is not a rigid set of rules but an adaptable guide, offering a balance between process prescription and flexibility. It provides a framework that brings clarity and structure to the engagement process and how this leads to better outcomes, while allowing for creativity and adaptability to individual contexts. Tailored for practitioners and policymakers across various domains, including landowners, government bodies, scientists, community groups, and more, the RfE acts as a compass for those navigating the complexities of engagement while maximising benefits.

Implementing the RfE

To implement the RfE, practitioners should first recognise the significance of engagement in nature recovery and NbS projects (the What, Why, Who, How and When of engagement). Then, they can tailor the nine key ingredients (see Figure 1) to align with organisational priorities and project objectives. The value of the RfE lies in its versatility, offering adaptable components that can be tailored to diverse projects and decision-making scenarios. It is designed to complement existing engagement efforts and can be integrated with other resources and guidance.

The RfE helps practitioners to select and use specific sections relevant to their needs, resources, and capacity. Whether you’re new to engagement or a seasoned professional, the guide offers a starting point for developing evidence-led strategies or enhancing existing processes.

What practitioners are saying

“The guidance helped form the foundation of our organisation’s engagement strategy, which is a central component of our efforts for building natural capital. It’s great to see this practical guidance available to support others’ work.” Calum Brown, Chief Scientist, Highlands Rewilding

“I found the RfE refreshingly supportive instead of overwhelming. There were reminders of how to act when there are limitations on an organisation’s ability to deliver all ingredients and how to commit to continuous improvement. I’ve already changed the way that I’ve been thinking about and preparing for engagement after reading this.” Nature Recovery Project Manager, Public Sector

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