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The Civil Service Environment Network: why and how to develop your environmental policy capability?

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Why do we exist?

The Civil Service Environment Network (CSEN) was created as a space for all civil servants, regardless of background or role, to share and build knowledge and capability in environmental policy. In one short year, we now have a membership of over 600 individuals.

Climate change and environmental issues are increasingly and rightfully becoming part of all our roles. Focus on these transformative challenges needs to be embedded at the heart of Government and permeate through all its operations, to achieve sustainable outcomes.

Dexter Lee, Civil Service Environment Network Co-Chair and Policy Advisor at Defra

To illustrate, achieving Net Zero emissions by 2050 will demand a systemic change in all Departmental policy approaches. The scope of this monumental opportunity includes policy impacting on: energy, industry, transport, finance, agriculture, trade, diplomacy, housing, skills and education…

Our aim is to educate, develop and inspire civil servants across four cross-cutting themes - Climate Change; Natural Resources; Biodiversity and Ecosystems; and Sustainable Development - to deepen understanding and spark thinking in these wide-reaching environmental issues.

What do we offer?

  • Talks. We host monthly speaker-led events and have welcomed - Chris Stark (Chief Executive of the Committee on Climate Change); Nick Bridge (FCO special representative for Climate Change); Professor Tahseen Jafry (Director of the Centre for Climate Justice); Dr Emily Shuckburgh (Director of Cambridge Zero); and Professor Dieter Helm (Chair of the Natural Capital Committee), to name a few.
  • Discussion Groups. We host monthly facilitated discussions based around Government’s work, topical podcasts, and accessible news and academic articles. Recent topics include - natural capital and sustainability metrics; environmental justice; and behaviour change.
  • Coffee roulette. Every month, members have the opportunity to pair up to discuss and learn about anything environmental – a great way to grow your network.
  • Career talks. We host career-based sessions with senior civil servants which provide tips on how to forge successful career paths in environmental policy.
  • Volunteering opportunities. We offer opportunities to use your volunteering days - for example, through recent collaboration with City Harvest, a surplus food distributor.
  • Website. CSEN online hosts our previous talks and resources for members to access and provides a forum for active discussion through blogs and online communities.

How to get involved and hear about the latest opportunities?

If not currently a member, we sincerely hope you connect to join the conversation and enrich our network’s membership. We also welcome views on how we can shape our offer to meet your needs.

Thank you to everyone who has engaged with us so far – our members, other networks through collaborative events, speakers and our network sponsor David Hill (Director General for Environment, Rural and Marine at Defra). This has demonstrated the passion within the Civil Service to tackle these pivotal issues.

Dexter, Catherine, Charlie and the dedicated Civil Service Environment Network committee

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