Ideas are the first stage in the design of any policy, plan, project or programme (PPPP). It is important to work with key stakeholders (relevant professionals and those people likely to be affected by the PPPP) to identify possible ideas within the context of your work. Use your networks to help to introduce new ideas and to understand lessons learnt from other case studies. Test and assess the favoured course(s) of action in the subsequent stages of the cycle and identify suitable indicators to monitor and measure desired outcomes.

Key questions and tools

  • Does the policy, plans, project or programme (PPPP) possibly impact on the environment (or trigger any statutory processes and requirements that you must comply with)?
  • If yes, use the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)tool (strategic level) or the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) tool (project/application level)
  • What is the value of ecosystem services in your area?
  • Use the Ecosystem Assessment tool and Ecosystem Mapping tool.
  • Do you want to consider alternative courses of action for your PPPP (i.e. ask what kind of area/development/future do we want)?
  • If yes, use the Futures Tools toolkit to consider alternatives
  • How can you build in public engagement to your PPPP? (Please note that we recommend that engagement should continue throughout all stages of the policy cycle)
  • Use Engagement tools to help you to plan your engagement strategy.
  • What are the key lessons that you have learned during this stage?
  • Keep a record of these for the Evaluate stage.

Prompts for discussion

  • What are the aims and objectives of the policy, plan, project or programme (PPPP)?
  • Is there any previous work to inform your initial discussions?
  • What are the spatial, political/regulatory and organisational boundaries of your PPPP?
  • What are the ecosystem services affected by the PPPP and where are they located (you can map these in the Survey stage)?
  • Who benefits and who loses from the current use of ecosystem services?
  • How can you engage the public and different stakeholders in this stage, using ecosystem services as a guide?
  • What are the data requirements for the Survey phase – are there any gaps in your data?
  • What are the key indicators that you can use to measure the success of your PPPP?
  • What are the key lessons emerging from the Ideas phase thus far?