Nature and Us: a national conversation on the future of the natural environment

Freshwater was commissioned by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to work on a high-profile project to develop and communicate a shared vision for the future of the national environment in Wales. A ‘2050 Vision’ was a corporate plan commitment for NRW and a key initiative in securing both stakeholder and public support for action on the climate and nature emergencies. The first phase of the project involved the design and delivery of a 10-week ‘national conversation’ to engage the people of Wales in a virtual debate about the issues facing the environment


7 million

advertising impressions, 4.9m opportunities to see media coverage and more than 3,500 Facebook ‘likes’


people visited the Nature and Us website over the 10-week national conversation period


visitors completed a Nature and Us survey, while a further 382 attended a live event

Freshwater was tasked with developing a programme that would engage a significant proportion of the population of Wales in an active conversation about the future of the natural environment and the very real choices for society in light of the climate and nature emergencies. Uncertainty regarding national COVID-19 regulations meant that the bulk of involvement would need to be online and targets were set around the desired number of survey completions and registrations for Nature and Us events.

The objectives of the national conversation were two-fold; to provide a context for the debate using robust information, informed by the latest scientific knowledge on the state of our natural resources and to encourage individuals to share their thoughts and opinions on what future they would like for our natural environment, as well as the changes they would be prepared to make in order to realise that vision.

Freshwater worked closely with the Nature and Us project team and also with multiple NRW ‘workstreams’, looking at specific areas like evidence and research, stakeholder involvement, communication and vision content. Our team developed a dedicated, bi-lingual online portal to host the national conversation and linked through to NRW’s consultation website – Citizen Space – which hosted the online survey.

Assisted by specialist research consultancy OB3, Freshwater developed a research methodology that featured three levels of engagement – the survey, a series of public webinars and a number of regional focus groups, all designed to explore the views and opinions of the public.  A series of stakeholder workshops were also designed to involve organisations working within the environmental sector and capture their views on the state of the natural environment and their visions for the future.

The Freshwater team worked with NRW to develop the Nature and Us name and brand identity to front the national conversation. We developed a pan-Wales, cross-channel marketing plan to raise awareness of the national conversation and drive survey completions, registrations for the webinars and focus group volunteers. A separate stakeholder involvement campaign involved the development of an extensive stakeholder database, verbal briefings from internal ‘champions’, regular email shots and social media engagement activity.

Former rugby star-turned extreme adventurer, Richard Parks, and TV naturalist Iolo Williams were secured as ambassadors for the project and worked with Freshwater on a series of initiatives. Other online ‘influencers’ with connections to Wales, who post or write on environmental issues, were researched and engaged directly on social media.

Freshwater created an online dashboard within Google Data Studio, enabling the project team and NRW colleagues to track campaign performance in real time. The campaign itself involved media briefings, releases and interviews, targeted advertising on Google, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, and sponsored content on WalesOnline and Golwg360. We also created a multi-layered stakeholder toolkit, containing posters, newsletter articles, promotional videos, social media messaging and graphics, allowing key partners and stakeholders to promote the national conversation within their networks.

  • Nature and Us digital advertising was seen more than 7 million times, achieving more than 65,000 clicks and interactions over a 10-week period, at a cost-per-click (CPC) of 35p.
  • Facebook ads received 3,661 reactions, with 97% labelled as ‘like’, ‘love’ or ‘wow’.
  • PR activity generated 18 items of coverage, reaching a potential audience of 4.9m, with 89% categorised as ‘strongly positive’
  • 52,033 users visited the website, creating 62,059 total sessions
  • A total of 3,069 people completed at least part one of the Nature and Us Survey (against a target of 1,000)
  • The national webinars attracted 419 registrations (against a target of 300) and achieved a 44% attendance rate. A total of 270 members of the public volunteered for a focus group.
  • The Nature and Us stakeholder toolkit was downloaded by 350 people from 227 different organisations. 164 stakeholder organisations registered for a Nature and Us workshop (79% attendance rate)


Natural Resources Wales

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