Climate Action Unit


The Strategy Room: where the public debates how to go low carbon

31 January 2023

Introducing a new project from the UCL Climate Action Unit & digital studio Fast Familiar.

The Strategy Room

What is The Strategy Room? 

Imagine a focus group created by escape room designers, where local people collectively decide the route to a low carbon future.

The Strategy Room is an immersive experience in which local people are invited to imagine the benefits of a Net Zero future, and to have their say on how we get there. 

It has been designed specifically for local authorities. Currently, these organisations have very little data on the social acceptability of potential pathways to net zero, nor the specific local demographic and geographic factors that must be taken into account. 

The Strategy Room is a simple tool which can be used to support public engagement in meeting rooms, school halls, faith centres and all the other places local people congregate. It generates anonymised, aggregated data on each community’s priorities and the benefits most associated with a net-zero future. 

A photo of participants taking part in The Strategy Room

A sneak peek inside the experience 

During each session of the Strategy Room, twelve participants sit around a table with tablet devices. They review video content, discuss and express opinions about policy choices within three net zero policy areas: travel, heat and food.  

Carefully crafted postcards from the future (testimonies performed by filmed actors) draw participants into the scenario, while a facilitator supports the group to share their opinions. Participants debate the co-benefits  and fairness of the policies, and after discussion, rate their level of support for the options.

An example of co-production 

The process through which we’ve developed the experience has involved: 

  • Co-production workshops with three local authorities to develop the pilot 
  • Input on the future scenarios from net zero and behavioural experts
  • Extensive prototyping with a wide range of participants from professional and non-expert backgrounds 
  • Audience testing of phrasing and framing to ensure content is widely understood 

What are we learning?

The bespoke platform which The Strategy Room experience runs on collects a range of data. This data can be analysed to derive information about: 

  • People’s understanding of net zero
  • People’s support for different net zero policies & actions
  • The perceived co-benefits of net zero policies 

The system also collects anonymous, aggregate data about participants demographics, circumstances and values. 

Where can I find out more? 

The funded pilot roll-out takes place between January and March 2023. During this time approximately 700 participants from across the UK will step into The Strategy Room.

Following a period of analysis, the results of this project will be published in a report by Nesta's Centre for Collective Intelligence Design (CCID). This report will be freely available and communicated with local government, the scientific community, and the wider public.

The people behind The Strategy Room

The Strategy Room is created by digital story studio Fast Familiar and the UCL Climate Action Unit. It was co-created with three local authorities and their residents: London Borough of Lambeth, Sandwell, and Southend-on-Sea. 

The project, commissioned and funded by NESTA, is delivered by an interdisciplinary team with expertise in narrative design, facilitation, creative technology, neuroscience and psychology.