DAERA launches index to measure NI public’s engagement with environment

Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots has announced the launch of a new index to measure the public’s engagement with the environment in Northern Ireland.

The Environmental Engagement Index will take the form of a yearly survey and will be unique to Northern Ireland, allowing policymakers to use its data to shape future environmental decisions.

Research has shown that if people are engaged with nature they are more likely to look after it.

A baseline survey has already been completed to look at how connected the people of Northern Ireland are with their environment across a wide range of demographics such as age and gender.

The results of this will be used to track changes in the relationship between society and nature over time using an annual survey.

Members of the public can find their own engagement score on the Live Here Love Here homepage and compare it to the average Northern Ireland score.

Launching the index, Minister Poots said: “I am delighted to launch this new index and look forward to tracking the progress of environmental engagement in future years.

There is definitely room for improvement with only 63% of respondents believing their actions affect the environment but I want everyone to realise their actions affect our environment.

“The compassionate nature of the people of Northern Ireland has never been more evident than the level of care they have shown to each other during this pandemic and we now need to show the same level of care for our environment.”

Minister Poots added “When asked what the government should prioritise the largest response was for climate change and I have listened.

“That is one of the reasons I recently launched a consultation on a Climate Change Bill and I would urge everyone to get involved in the consultation as well as going online and taking the environmental engagement index survey.”

The Index was developed in a collaboration between the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful (KNIB), Queens University Belfast (QUB) and the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI).