Exploring the Connection with Nature
Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots, announced the launch last week of a new Environmental Engagement Index (EEI) for Northern Ireland. School of SSESW academic Karen Kerr was part of the team who developed the index over the past 18 months, working with representatives from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute and Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful. The Index is unique to Northern Ireland as we lead the way in exploring engagement with and connection to nature.
The index is made up of a series of simple questions which measure connection to nature. Research has shown that if people are connected to nature, they are more likely to look after it. The Environmental Engagement Index (EEI) aims to increase the level of engagement in pro-environmental behaviours by the general public across Northern Ireland. The index has a web app and it will measure the value people place on the environment by asking users to take part in a short survey.
A baseline survey has already been carried out and it shows that 63 percent of people believe their actions effect the environment, so we still have a way to go! The index will be used yearly to compare the relationship between society and nature. When you complete the index you get your own score, which you can compare with friends and family.
The web application for the index can be accessed via the Live Here Love Here website homepage or by searching online for environmental engagement index Northern Ireland. Alternatively you can use this link: https://eei.liveherelovehere.app/
The baseline survey also asked people what the Government should prioritise and most people said ‘climate change’. A Consultation on Climate Change Bill has also been released: https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/consultations/climatechangediscussion
Commenting on the Index, Karen Kerr said “I am very excited and feel privileged to be representing Queen’s on such important work, which informs policy to help protect our environment. In Northern Ireland, we are so lucky to be surrounded by such a beautiful natural environment. Taking part in the survey and responding to the consultation on the Climate Change Bill means we can all have our voices heard and increase our awareness of the importance of being connected to and protecting our environment.”