30 by 30 and Nature Networks Co-design approach

The 30x30 and Nature Networks projects will both be following a co-design approach over the next few months to develop their frameworks. This highly collaborative process will see stakeholders from across Scotland work together to design the frameworks that will lead to us reaching 30% of land protected for nature by 2030 and the roll out of nature networks.

What is a co-design approach? 

Co-design is when an organisation and stakeholders work together to design or rethink a service, policy or project. 

Co-design goes beyond traditional stakeholder engagement. While consultation and feedback mechanisms seek advice and opinions from users, co-design allows us to design services in close collaboration. 

By using a co-design approach, NatureScot looks to address challenges collaboratively, by working with one or more stakeholders in the private, public and voluntary sectors, and citizens. The core objective of co-design is to move away from consulting with stakeholders to co-creating services and policies with them. Co-design principles and methods can be applied throughout the whole project or programme. This can include collaboration in terms of the design, production, planning, implementation, delivery, and evaluation of services and policies.

Co-design principles

There are many ways in which co-design can be delivered and it is not one size fits all. There are a number of key principles that need to be followed to ensure co-design is enacted. 

Some key principles include; 

  • Openness through inclusion, transparency, and use of shared language 
  • Equal value is given to expertise by lived experience and expertise by profession or education 
  • Respect and trust between all participants with shared decision-making power 

How does co-design lead to better outcomes

The foundations of a successful co-design process lean on openness; through sharing and inclusion of a diverse and broad group of stakeholders, ensuring accessibility and transparency of the process, and establishing shared language.  

These interrelated factors, build shared understanding and ensure participation on equal terms. This builds trust, which is vital for gaining genuine answers and uncovering the true needs of people and, in turn, leads to innovative ideas.  

Stakeholder engagement in participatory activities, such as workshops, leads to commitment ensuring all who take part feel empowered and feel ownership of the co-design process. This commitment and ownership aid successful implementation and uptake of the co-created solution. Furthermore, the commitment throughout the process often makes it more efficient with active participants contributing more resources or capabilities. In turn, this leads to functional and sustainable results that serve the true needs of people and nature, and a likelihood of saved resources and reduced costs in the long term.

co-design arrow showing the steps from openness to functioning solutions
The co-design process
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The co-design process leans on openness; through sharing and inclusion, ensuring accessibility and transparency, and establishing shared language.  Shared understanding and participation on equal terms build trust, which is vital for gaining genuine answers and uncovering the true needs of people and, in turn, leads to innovative ideas. Engagement, commitment and ownership aids the successful implementation and uptake of the co-created solution as well as contributing more resources or capabilities. This leads to functioning results and saving resources.

Co-design model

Over the next few months, the 30x30 and Nature Network projects will be using the Double Diamond design model to inform the co-design approach. The Double Diamond is a visual representation of the design and innovation process, dividing the process into four phases; 

  • Discover: explore the problem or challenge, building understanding amongst participants 
  • Define: clearly define the challenge 
  • Develop: explore and develop multiple potential solutions 
  • Deliver: selecting a single solution and preparing for implementation
Double diamond design model fully described next
Double Diamond design model
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The Discover phase was launched with the first 30x30 and Nature Networks webinar at the end of June. This first phase helps people understand, rather than simply assume, what the problem is. This event set the scene by introducing the challenge, context, and parameters we are working within.  The event asked interested parties who attended to start thinking creatively and ambitiously about what 30x30 and Nature Networks could look like. It is important to apply a participatory approach not only to problem-solving or idea-generating but also when defining the challenge to ensure we are uncovering and solving the “right” problem and true needs.  

While the ‘challenge’ in this case has largely been defined by policy targets, including stakeholders early on in defining what the ask is, can alert the group to repercussions early on, help identify additional stakeholders, and build ownership amongst stakeholders. Without this stage, it can be easy to jump to the solutions too early, without a proper dialogue, which may not address the right challenge or address the challenges we are facing appropriately. 

When asked in the initial opening event, the majority of stakeholders expressed interest in contributing to the project through workshops, therefore the primary method for this co-design process will be through a series of workshops. 

The closing of the Discover phase and beginning of the Define phase was hosted as a workshop, which brought together all interested parties again, this time delving deeper into the two projects separately to identify present challenges. This exercise resulted in themes that smaller sub-groups took forward and worked to address.

During the Define and Develop phases, a total of 14 workshops were held on these individual themes, discussing and deciding what 30x30 and Nature Networks need to achieve to combat the current challenges and ensure we reach our ambitions. The priniciples decided by the co-creators in these workshops formed the basis of the frameworks. 

As Develop moved to Deliver, an iterative process took place, reviewing and refining the framework before it goes out to public consultation.

Throughout the process, additional targeted co-design activities will run, as needed, in an effort to reach seldom-heard groups. If you are interested in your community inputting to any co-design activity please get in touch. We are also very happy to provide any of our communications in Gaelic.


Nature Networks

[email protected]

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