Change Starts With Us: Increasing Minority Ethnic Participation in the NI Environment Sector


In autumn 2022, Northern Ireland specific research emerged out of UK-wide concern about the lack of ethnic diversity in the environment sector. The ‘environment sector’ in this report is defined as Northern Ireland Environment Link (NIEL) member organisations.

The following research strives to gain an understanding of what may be encouraging or discouraging minority ethnic people from becoming involved with the environment sector in NI. As a consequence, contributions to this research are made by those working in the NI environment movement and by representatives of minority ethnic communities in NI. It was felt important to sample this range of views. It is anticipated that this report will influence the development of a long-term plan to help increase levels of ethnic diversity in the NI environment sector.

Research Content

  • A quantitative research survey was sent electronically to 68 organisations, all member organisations coming under the NIEL umbrella and NIEL itself.
  • Qualitative research involved small focus groups, semi-structured interviews and thoughts expressed at a workshop involving NIEL members and representatives of minority ethnic organisations and communities.

Research Focus

  • Gaining insight into those actions and initiatives already taken forward by environment sector organisations to increase the ethnic diversity of those working in the sector, volunteering within the sector, and accessing green space.
  • Assessing the knowledge and understanding of organisations in driving forward changeon ethnic diversity.
  • Developing increased understanding of minority ethnic people’s experience of and beliefs about the environment sector and their thoughts on increasing levels of participation.

The report doesn’t name specific organisations or individuals who participated in the quantitative or qualitative research as anonymity was assured at the outset to allow participants to speak freely.

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