We have good experience working with Defra and local councils on a variety of projects; a couple of recent projects are summarised below.

Complexity Evaluation Framework

Client: Defra
Project Team: CECAN Ltd

On the 5th June 2019, CECAN Ltd presented a first look at the new Complexity Evaluation Framework (Version 1) to an audience of policy-makers, analysts and commissioners in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The framework was commissioned by Defra and delivered by CECAN Ltd. Written for analysts and policy-makers who are involved in planning, commissioning, managing and/or delivering evaluation, the framework aims to ensure that complexity thinking is consistently embedded into evaluation – to equip its users with a checklist of core considerations to ensure that evaluations are robust and sufficiently consider the implications of complexity.

The workshop included a discussion with Roisin O’Brien (Principal Social Researcher – Resources and Waste Evidence) and Tom Pye (Senior Policy Advisor – Resources, Waste and Plastics Strategy), hosted by CECAN Deputy Director Ben Shaw.

CECAN Ltd successfully delivered the new Complexity Evaluation Framework (Version 1), which can be accessed and downloaded on the Defra website.

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Systems Analysis for Water Resources

Client: Defra
Project Team: CECAN Ltd with Mott MacDonald 

Between October 2019 and September 2020, CECAN Senior Research Fellows Dr Alex Penn and Dr Pete Barbrook-Johnson worked with Mott Macdonald on the ‘Systems Analysis for Water Resources’ project funded by Defra. The project used CECAN’s Participatory Systems Mapping approach to explore how whole systems and complexity-appropriate approaches can be used to provide insight on, and inform management of, river catchments. The project work took place in the Eden river catchment in Cumbria and the Medway in Kent, to develop systems maps of these catchments. These maps were co-produced and used with local stakeholders, and informed wider learning for Defra on how these approaches can work at the catchment level.

”They [Mott Macdonald] have ensured the project team includes experts from CECAN, who are also pivotal to the success of the project. The genuine interest in the project and desire from the Mott MacDonald and CECAN team to push the boundaries of what has been done before has added real value to the project. The creative ideas and suggestions of how to improve the approach as well as the great efforts they go to build excellent relationships with the participants of the research has been very much appreciated.”  Defra

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Design of an Evaluation Framework for Biodiversity Net Gain in England

Client: Defra
Project Team: CECAN Ltd with Collingwood Environmental Planning

CECAN Ltd, with Collingwood Environmental Planning Ltd, BSG Ecology, Geodata Institute, and Vivid Economics, was commissioned by Natural England on behalf of Defra to undertake a project to design an evaluation framework for Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) in England. The aim of mandatory BNG policy, as set out in the 2020 Environment Bill, is to secure a measurable improvement in habitat for biodiversity whilst streamlining the planning process and creating better places for local communities.  The purpose of the framework is to enable Natural England and Defra to evaluate how BNG is being delivered and understand the impact (environmental, social, and economic) of the BNG policy.

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Forces Connect South East – Veteran’s Hub Project

Client: Surrey County Council

Between January and October 2020 CECAN Ltd (Dr Ananya Mukherjee) undertook an evaluation and review of the Forces Connect South East – Veterans’ Hub Project. The project was funded by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund and led by Surrey County Council who commissioned CECAN Ltd to draft an external evaluation report, compiled utilising a range of techniques, in order to identify how effective the project had been in delivering against its stated outcomes and milestones using a theory-based evaluation method. The evaluation of the Forces Connect South East – Veterans’ Hub (FCSE-VH) Project aimed to assess the efficacy and impact of the project through the various engagement and outreach activities aimed at strengthening support to local veterans through the identification of need and current provision, developing best practice and enhancing the current offer through the creation of potential new hubs and sustaining existing ones, where there was a proven need for additional funds. Dr Ananya Mukherjee was Lead Consultant on behalf of CECAN Ltd. The project was carried out within the local authority areas of Surrey, Kent, Hampshire, East Sussex and West Sussex County Councils, and Brighton & Hove and Medway Councils. Qualitative data analysis methods were used to evaluate and highlight the work of the FCSE-VH’s work in facilitating the smooth transition of ex-service personnel into civilian life as well as supporting veterans who have previously served in the armed forces.



Department of Sociology
University of Surrey
Guildford GU2 7XH