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The means, motive and opportunity of devolved policy responses to an ecosystem approach

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The ‘environment’ is a fully devolved concern in UK governance, though the comparative dynamics of devolved environmental governance remain poorly understood. The potential for the repatriation of significant environmental powers from the EU to devolved administrations through Brexit means that the nature of devolved environmental policy-making is increasingly coming under the spotlight. This paper enhances collective understanding about the nature of devolved environmental government and governance by adopting a comparative approach across the devolved nations of the UK. Based upon interviews and policy publications it analyses a number of key policy-making and institutional variables in relation to responses to an international environmental regime. In both Wales and Scotland evidence was found of environmental policy-making, policy-innovation and institution-building that diverged from the UK. Wales, in particular, evidenced how ‘the environment’ appears to be seen as a dynamic space for policy and institutional innovation. These findings highlight how the devolved-scale of governance might be particularly fruitful for environmental policy-innovation when the means, motive and opportunity are evident. It also highlights how key conditions are evident to ensure that devolved agencies may be empowered to undertake radically divergent approaches and programmes.

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Fig. 1
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Reproduced from Scott et al. (2014, p. 28), and National Assembly for Wales (2012)

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Correspondence to Nick Kirsop-Taylor.

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Kirsop-Taylor, N. The means, motive and opportunity of devolved policy responses to an ecosystem approach. Br Polit 15, 349–368 (2020).

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