Pioneering co-production in the creation of Jersey’s first national park
When the Department of the Environment first explored the concept of a national park in Jersey in 2009, there was clear support for the idea. The initial suggestion was to create a park in and around St Ouen’s Bay, but some stakeholders suggested a more ambitious plan to include most of the coast.
With ministerial support, the formation of this larger national park was incorporated into the Island Plan and initially functioned as a planning control measure. However, it was recognised that the national park could deliver many more benefits – for biodiversity, the landscape, tourism, rural businesses and recreation. In 2014, after drafting an outline plan, the Department of the Environment contracted Dialogue Matters to bring stakeholders together to help shape and influence the final plan – and hopefully encourage commitment to action.
The project was delivered on a tight budget and with tight deadlines. From an initial scoping meeting with the steering committee at the start of the year to delivering the final report, Dialogue Matters had just six months to act. To make the situation more of a challenge, the Department of the Environment were particularly keen to encourage an ethos of co-production, which some people can struggle with due of the lack of certainty it initially brings.
Co-production: a reciprocal relationship between public bodies, citizens and the third sector, which draws on the resources of each (such as time, effort, skills and funds) to share the planning and delivery of agreed actions that result in shared benefits. This means full responsibility for all in planning what happens, and full responsibility for all by implementing decisions.
However, through a carefully considered sequence of workshops and guided by a well-designed process, the facilitators from Dialogue Matters were able to allay any fears and harness people’s willingness to be involved.
The first workshop was held in March 2015 and brought people together to discuss their shared vision, to share their knowledge, discuss what was going well and what else would need to happen to create a successful, sustainable National Park. From this they created a ‘wish list’, identified what resources would be required for change and – crucially for a co-production approach – discussed the possible styles of a management plan.
Between then and the second workshop, the steering committee were able to work with that information to draft an action plan, management plan and collate further information, while the participants were given time to relay progress with their organisations and communities.
The second workshop took place in May and comprised a review of the plan so far and what the measures of success would be. Time was spent action planning, and a Coastal National Park group was formed. After the second workshop, documents were redrafted and again participants disseminated information to their wider groups.
As a result of this considered stakeholder dialogue and co-production approach, the island of Jersey has a plan that is well supported and which integrates action between government departments and between government, the third sector, businesses and communities. What was tricky was how to constitute the new national park group as there were no projects or models to learn from in the UK.
The actual outputs included content for the management plan, a 20-page action plan, and the agreed roles and responsibilities of the interim working group.
This approach generated co-delivery and action, built consensus around principles and actions, created synergies of effort (including over 50 specific offers of people, funds and skills) and resulted in increased and shared ownership – in essence, a shining example of co-production.
- Dialogue was action-centred
- Appreciating others’ views created a sense of shared purpose
- The whole is greater than the sum of the parts
- Co-production has enormous promise for land and seascapes