Updated: Sep 18, 2020
Helen Tomlinson writes about why she set up an environment network in the Civil Service.
A big part of our job as civil servants is finding solutions. The problems and issues we try to find solutions to vary and are framed differently depending on the political inclinations and priorities of the government of the day, but the basic focus remains.
These problems and solutions are and increasingly will be connected to the environmental crises of our time: a rapidly changing climate; degradation of natural habitats and collapsing biodiversity; the diminishing capacity of the earth’s ecosystems to regulate and sustain life.
One of the solutions is to mainstream the natural environment and our impact on it into our everyday policy decisions, to make thinking about nature second nature.
For us, as civil servants, one of the solutions is to mainstream the natural environment and our impact on it into our everyday policy decisions, to make thinking about nature second nature. This includes policy areas where these ‘issues’ might seem unconnected or only very tenuously linked. In the UK, the cornerstones of this approach have been laid with the enactment of a commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050 and the forthcoming HM Treasury review on the economics of biodiversity. But hardwiring this approach into how we work will take a sustained, concerted effort across the piece.
We’ve established this network to learn from colleagues, share knowledge and experience, and promote exposure to the latest thinking by specialists. The aim is that we all collectively benefit from the cross-fertilisation of ideas that happens when people from different parts of government start talking, and thinking, together.
There is strength in numbers and strength in breaking down silos. If you are a UK civil servant – in a government department, a non-departmental public body, an agency or a devolved administration – please join us. We are open to everyone – any job, any grade, anywhere. And if you work for a government administration in another country and are doing some similar to us or want to find out more, please get in touch – we’d love to hear from you and swap ideas!