Happy Friday! This week on my travels through the Citizen Space Aggregator I noticed there are quite a lot of calls for evidence being conducted at the moment.

A call for evidence differs from a formal consultation, which tends to be run once there’s a draft policy or decision in place, in that it’s much more open: it’s an information-seeking exercise which will then inform the direction and shape of a policy. Calls for evidence seek information and expertise from people, organisations and stakeholders with direct experience or knowledge of a particular issue.

We see quite a lot of big-ticket calls for evidence on Citizen Space as these activities tend to be run at a national level. So this week, here are three government departments running high-profile calls for evidence.

Government of Northern Ireland, UK

The Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Committe (AERA) of the Northern Ireland Assembly are running a call for evidence on a proposed Climate Change Bill for Northern Ireland. They’re seeking views from stakeholders on the proposals and potential consequences of the Bill to assess how the legislation could affect different parts of society and how effective it may be in achieving its goals. 

Why it’s good: the team have elected for a non-linear (chapter-based) format, which is ideal for longer and more complex activities like this one as it allows respondents to see up front what they’re being asked to complete. I like the helpful ‘Tips for completing your response’ fact bank in the contents page, which explains which questions are/aren’t required and that respondents can save and come back later.

Ministry of Justice, UK

Here’s one that will make your brain hurt a bit: the Law Commission for England and Wales, in conjunction with the Ministry of Justice, are calling for evidence on the topic of digital assets (that is, they exist in the digital realm and not the physical, such as cryptocurrency). The Law Commission asserts that, given the implication of the word ‘possession’ to mean owning/having a physical thing, that digital assets can be owned but not possessed. They’re seeking views on what the legal implications would be to assert that a digital asset can be possessed.

Why it’s good: while the questions and content are complex, the underlying structure is simple: just a single page of questions with free-text answers. The Call for Evidence document linked from the overview page also has a nice consultation/policy timeline indicating this falls in the pre-consultation phase.

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, UK

BEIS are seeking evidence on biomass energy and how it could support the UK’s transition to net zero carbon. There is an existing Bioenergy Strategy, but it was published in 2012 and a lot has changed since then. BEIS are asking for input from stakeholders in order to update their evidence base on biomass.

Why it’s good: I like that there’s an ‘about this survey’ page and BEIS are very clear up front with their privacy policy and the ways in which response data will be used.

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