An observatory for public engagement with energy and climate change

3S researchers have published a briefing note introducing the Public Engagement Observatory which is housed in 3S as part of the UK Energy Research Centre. It accompanied the launch of the Observatory’s new dedicated website and open access database

The Public Engagement Observatory

The UKERC Public Engagement Observatory maps the many different ways that people are engaging with energy, climate change and net zero on an ongoing basis. It openly shares, experiments with, and undertakes these mappings with others to help make energy and climate-related decisions, innovations, and participation more just, responsible, and responsive to society. Through its network, the Observatory makes connections and encourages learning across wider systems of public engagement in the UK and internationally.

About the briefing

The briefing explains the Observatory’s background, and why a new approach to public engagement with energy and climate change is urgently needed. It shows that meaningful public engagement is now seen as crucial to addressing the challenges of energy transitions and climate change. While these are profoundly systemic problems, most approaches to public engagement are not, focusing on discrete and often one-off forms of participation in specific parts of wider systems. 3S has been at the forefront of moves to develop more systemic approaches to public participation and engagement, including through the Public Engagement Observatory. 

The briefing summarises this prior work and lays out the Observatory’s approach and aims. It goes on to set out the Observatory’s three overlapping areas of activity and research, in mapping public engagement, in assembling a network including a national network, international partners and an advisory group, and in undertaking experiments with partner organisations in government, business and civil society to explore what difference the Observatory’s mappings can make in policy and practice.

Get involved

The Observatory’s website allows everyone to openly access, explore and contribute to its mappings of diverse public engagement with energy and climate change. It gives users access to hundreds of case studies of public engagement with energy and climate change in the UK from 2010 to present which can be searched, filtered and visualised, by forms of engagement, public participants, topics, and locations. The website also acts as a hub for the Observatory’s network and includes a growing library of resources on mapping participation and systemic approaches to public engagement.  

To find out more about the Public Engagement Observatory or get involved in its work, please visit our websitefollow us on Twitter @UKERC_Engage, and join the Observatory’s network here.

A webinar marking the launch of the Observatory’s new website and open access database can be viewed here.