I am a Cardiff University student studying Politics, International Relations and German and will be documenting my experience of the Cardiff University Research Opportunities Placement (CUROP) that I am currently undertaking under the guidance of Hannah Hughes, Ben Pontin, Richard Percival and Ludivine Petetin in the School of Law and Politics. Like many others, I feel strongly about the environment and this project gives me space to learn more about environmental politics in Wales, whilst also giving me first hand research experience.
The aim of this project is to identify stakeholders involved or affected by Welsh environmental legislation and to compile them into a database. The completed database should have a broad scope, identifying as many different actors interested in Welsh government activity around the environment as possible, as well as providing information about the characteristics and distinctions between these different sets of actors.
Brexit is central to this project, as it provides both challenges and opportunities for the Welsh government and civic society. There is space for the devolved administration and stakeholders to engage proactively and push for more stringent environmental legislation, however glaring challenges also exit. Many stakeholders are concerned with the potential loss of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and are worried how the Barnett Formula function in a post-Brexit landscape.
I initially believed that the project would be straightforward and easy to accomplish, yet with each passing day the volume of work has been increasing. There are far more stakeholders than I imagined and learning about environmental legislation in Wales was challenging, because I did not know which aspects of the environment were devolved. The database started out with a short list of about 30 stakeholders, this number has grown quickly to over 200. The categorisation of stakeholders proves to be one of the most challenging aspects of the database, but is a critical task to the differences between seemingly similar actors. For example, there are very different types of stakeholder interested in environmental legislation in Wales and the changes that Brexit will bring, from large multinational corporations to small community driven voluntary organisations.
There is some scholarly literature on stakeholder engagement in Wales, however we initially approached the topic from the wrong perspective. Once we started looking at stakeholder engagement through the lens of civil society we found a number of important contributions. Victoria Jenkins and Elin Royles have both made important contributions to the literature on Welsh environmental law and civic society engagement in devolved Wales, with the latter providing an excellent account of how structural funds are managed in Wales. Comparative literature between the devolved administrations by Derek Birrell has been insightful in shedding some light into the differences and similarities between the administrations.
In the following weeks I will be focusing on gathering more information on individual stakeholders, especially relating to size. To provide this I will attempt to identify the number and location of officers as well as their revenue. I will also seek to identify key actors within each organisation through their board membership, which will hopefully also reveal links between different bodies. I will also read more literature by Mark Stallworthy and Victoria Jenkins on climate change law in Wales, to broaden my understanding of the topic and to add to the literature review.