Ben Fagan-Watson

Ben Fagan-Watson is a Senior Research Fellow at the Policy Studies Institute (PSI). He has a range of research interests, including:

Evaluation: Ben is one of the core team running the new ESRC-funded £3m Centre for Evaluating Complexity Across the Nexus, which is exploring new methods to evaluate the effectiveness of UK environmental policy. From 2017-2021 he is leading the process evaluation of the Heat Networks Investment Project for the Department of Business, Energy, Innovation and Skills. He recently co-ordinated a Rapid Evidence Assessment for Defra which is assessing the impact and implementation of complex environmental policies on complex systems.

Action research and co-production: Ben is Co-Investigator of the IsuLabantu project, which seeks to support communities in Durban, South Africa, and strengthen their capacity to guide urban development themselves. In particular, the project focuses on community-led processes and in-situ upgrading of informal settlements. From 2015-16 he was Co-Investigator on the Urban Heat project, which explored how communities can be involved in preparing for and responding to heatwaves and hot weather in the UK. From 2009-2013 Ben conducted two action-based research projects for Defra assessing how to encourage pro-environmental behaviours around food waste (Maiden Lane Food Loop), and assessing whether ‘trusted intermediaries’ (such as plumbers, or plumbers’ merchants) can be used to spread pro-environmental, water-saving behaviours and products to the general public (Plug-It).

Corporate power: From 2013-14, Ben was on secondment to CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) where he was the Head of Government Relations. CDP is an international not-for-profit organisation that gathers key environmental information from over 5,000 of the world’s largest businesses on behalf of 722 investors worth $87 trillion. He led CDP’s research into corporate lobbying on climate policy, and contributed to the Guide to Responsible Corporate Engagement in Climate Policy, which was written with eight leading institutions, including three UN agencies. He has since led two projects exploring how businesses and trade associations influence EU climate policy.

Children’s independence and travel: Ben has worked on two major projects on Children’s Independent Mobility - children’s freedom to travel to local places without adult supervision. He conducted a comparative study of England and Germany in this field and coordinated a major international study building on this work, which has involved working with partner researchers from 15 other countries.

Research networks and projects: Ben organised, publicised and managed two major research projects as part of the secretariat of the Sustainable Development Research Network and the Green Fiscal Commission.

Ben was module leader of ‘Environmental Change and Transition to a Low Carbon Society’, which is part of the MA Energy and Environmental Change. He is available as a PhD supervisor.

Ben joined PSI in 2009. In June 2008, he was given the ‘London Social Justice Campaigner 2008’ award by the Sheila McKechnie Foundation, a UK charitable foundation that aims to promote effective campaigning. Ben holds a first-class BA in Historical Studies from the University of Bristol.

Contact details


Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus (CECAN)

Community-led Upgrading for Self-Reliance in South Africa: Integrated Construction and Environmental Management Systems in Informal Settlements

Business lobbying in the wake of COP21

Marylebone Road Subway: Pre- and post-improvement works surveys

URBAN HEAT: community-led resilience to urban heatwaves

Lobbying by Trade Associations on EU Climate Policy

A Rapid Evidence Assessment evaluating the impact and implementation of complex environmental policies on complex systems

Sustainable Development Research Network (Phase IV)

Independent mobility as a critical aspect of children's development and quality of life - an international comparative study

Plug-it: Working with intermediaries as facilitators of change to the way people live or consume

Independent Mobility as a Critical Aspect of Children's Development and Quality Of Life

'Food Loop': Testing innovative approaches for achieving pro-environmental behaviours

Green Fiscal Commission

Sustainable Development Research Network (phase III)


Heatwave planning: community involvement in co-producing resilience

Baker Street Wonderpass: evaluation of improvement works

What does community resilience look like in practice? How institutions see the role of communities in responding to heatwaves in the UK

Children’s Independent Mobility: An International Comparison and Recommendations for Action

Lobbying by Trade Associations on EU Climate Policy

What range of methods is available to evaluate the implementation and impact of complex environmental policies on complex systems?

A comparison study of children's independent mobility in England and Australia

Food Loop – A technical research report for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Community co-design: A guide to working collaboratively through design

Children's independent mobility: a comparative study in England and Germany (1971-2010)