1000 proposal review

26th April 2018

We reviewed 1,000 proposals to know where successful projects are working already and who is involved, where there are the biggest gaps and risks in current debate, and who is being left out.
Identifying relevant proposals

The focus on policy interventions or other actionable ideas made this largely a review of grey literature. We included:

  • Government white papers and speeches, from Whitehall, the devolved governments and a small number of international sources
  • Select committee inquiries, together with evidence that has been submitted to them by academics, interest groups and members of the public
  • Reports and briefings by interest groups such as NGOs and industry associations, and previous commissions of inquiry
  • We focused on publications since 2015. We identified potential publications to review through a mix of methods, primarily:

1. Browsing the publications of relevant government departments, select committees and previous commissions of inquiry

2. Browsing the websites of relevant interest groups, prioritising those with news sections that highlight and comment on proposals made by other organisations

3. Following references that we found via both the routes above

We did not rely on keyword searches of the internet or research literature, as these would deliver a large volume of analysis and commentary on issues within the Commission’s scope, but a low density of actionable proposals.

Our approach to including proposals in the review was selective. We decided whether to read publications that we encountered based on an initial assessment of their likely relevance, informed by their titles and (where available) abstracts/summaries. Literature that we selected to read was included when it contained actionable proposals that are potentially relevant to the Commission’s scope (as set out in our launch publication), where the same proposal by the same organisation was not already included in the database.

The review is not comprehensive. It was an initial attempt at developing an indicative map of the field, which we opened up for scrutiny and additional input through the Call for Ideas.

Interactively compare, contrast and explore the 1,000 proposals on Flourish:

How we reviewed each proposal

We listed the proposals to include in the review in a spreadsheet. For each proposal we included basic metadata about where we found it, plus a summary of the proposal and additional detail where available. We edited the summaries to highlight what action was being proposed and to make sense when read out of context.

We then categorised each proposal using a set of criteria relevant to the Commission’s remit. These are summarised in Table 1, below. Categorising the proposals relied on our review team interpreting what we read and making a reasonable assessment – it is inevitably a subjective process, but can nevertheless draw out possible trends, gaps and themes for discussion. We’re not pretending our review was definitive, which is why we gave the opportunity to tell us what we’d missed or misunderstood in the Call for Ideas.

The criteria in Table 1 are intended to draw out, and highlight for discussion, the types of intervention that are being proposed to address different issues, how the perspective of those making a proposal affects what they see as necessary and possible, and areas where an idea could have greatest impact.

There is much we didn't include in the review. For example, we didn’t try to weight proposals according to the scale of impact they could have. Nor did we scored them on feasibility. This is because scale and feasibility will be heavily shaped by circumstance – by the backing and resources they receive.

Table 1: categories used in the review


Description and rationale



The type of intervention proposed. This distinguishes whether proposals primarily concern finance, regulation, information or co-ordination, as well as categorising them in more detail. It also provides a check that ideas are actionable. Many options can apply to interventions by any sector – e.g. assurance or payments might be implemented by government, NGOs or businesses.

Regulation: Bans; Laws/legal frameworks; Procurement standards; Restrictions; Spatial planning; Standards; Targets

Finance: Incentives; Infrastructure; Insurance; Investment grants; Loans; Operating grants; Payment for public goods; Taxes; Vouchers/discounts

Information: Advice; Consultation; Education; Guidance; Knowledge exchange; Labelling; Monitoring; Plans/strategy; Research; Training

Coordination: Collaboration; Facilitation; Inclusion; Integration; Market development; Voluntary agreement


The country where the proponent/author is based, except where the remit is explicitly UK-wide. This is a check to ensure coverage of literature across the nations of the UK and provides an opportunity to explore national policy trends.

UK; England; England/Wales; Wales; Scotland; Northern Ireland; International

Proposed by

The author/proponent of the proposal.

Public sector: UK Government; Welsh Government; Scottish Government; Northern Ireland Executive; Parliamentarians; European Parliament; OECD; Other government

Private sector: Industry associations; Consultancy; Media

Third sector: Academic/Researchers; Individual citizens; NGOs; Think tank

Cross-sector partnership

For action by

Who is suggested as, or is most evidently in a position to, instigate a proposal, e.g. by releasing resources or coordinating activity.

Public sector: UK Government; Welsh Government; Scottish Government; Northern Ireland Executive; Local authority

Private sector: Business; Industry associations; Land managers/farmers

Third sector: Academic/Researchers; Individual citizens; Community groups; NGOs; Think tank

Cross-sector partnership


Our assessment of the main potential areas where a proposal promises to have benefits.

Economic; Social*; Environmental*; Animal welfare

*Composite (see below)

Each intervention is scored with a three point scale from 0 to 2.

Socio-economic benefit

Detailed assessment of benefit across 4 socio-economic categories.

Income & work; Health & welfare; Social justice; Democratic voice

Each intervention is scored with a three point scale from 0 to 2. The overall social benefit category (above) is a composite of health & welfare, social justice and democratic voice. The economic category (above) corresponds to income & work.

Environmental benefit

Detailed assessment of benefit across 6 environmental categories.

Environment is made up of Climate & air; Water; Soil; Biodiversity; Waste; Fisheries.

Each intervention is scored with a three point scale from 0 to 2. If 3 out of 5 categories (excluding fisheries) scored at least 1, then 'Environment' scored 2, otherwise the highest value across all 6 categories (including fisheries) was used.


The final 5 criteria refer to areas of intervention.

Farming, fishing & land; Food; Energy; Housing; Rural services

Each intervention is scored with a three point scale from 0 to 2

Note: this research was originally published on the RSA website (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce), which hosted the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission between November 2017-April 2020.