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Source: University of Waikato

Around the world environmental policy makers and land management practitioners are facing similar challenges. In the age of zoom and common environmental problems, how can policy makers team up with their counterparts in similar countries to talk through what’s worked for them and what hasn’t?

To answer this, researchers from two universities at opposite ends of the Earth have got together. University of Waikato Professor of Environmental Planning Iain White and Professor of Human Geography Gareth Enticott at Cardiff University have initiated the project, Learning from Each Other: Understanding and Facilitating the Mobility of Environmental Policy and Practice Between Wales and New Zealand.

Wales and New Zealand are similar sized countries with a focus on agriculture, and they share similar challenges around environmental policy, for example, how to implement managed retreat and mitigate climate change emissions.

“It makes sense for policy makers in these countries to learn from each other, and to share what has worked in their respective areas,” says Professor White.

“Knowledge sharing should be easy in this age of virtual connectivity; but policy makers are time poor and often unsure where to start or where to go when looking for recent evidence, or to learn from the experience of others in their field.”

The project aims to build stronger and sustained virtual networks between the countries to facilitate the exchange of ideas, best practice, and current evidence.

Professor Enticott explained, “Wales and NZ are similar in so many ways. Historically there were important links between the countries, helping to develop agricultural systems. We hope this project will continue those relationships and find new ways of working together to address our shared environmental challenges.”

Professor White says, “We want to make it easy for policy makers to share expertise and knowledge. Each country has its strengths, New Zealand has significant research and practice around invasive species, and habitat restoration. Welsh policy makers are working with great evidence around water pollution and water quality solutions”.

The multi-stage project has kicked off with a survey for policy makers and practitioners.

Professor White said, “We have to start with a better understanding of what policy makers are looking for – what are their gaps and priorities?”

The survey results will be used to move into a second phase where experts and policy makers will be matched for online workshops.

Researchers at the two universities will monitor and assess the project outcomes.

“We want to assure that these virtual networks can be sustained beyond the project life, into the future”.

The project is funded by the Cardiff University and the University of Waikato Strategic International Partnership Collaborative Seed Fund. The fund is part of the strategic partnership, established between the universities in 2019.