There is no denying the fact that the impact of climate change is substantial, universal, and requires both adaptation and mitigation.
Even amid the current Covid-19 crisis, climate change remains a pressing issue – if anything the issue is highlighted by the evidence that clean air, clean waterways and more sustainable living and working practices are achievable. Unsurprisingly there is much discussion about the need for a ‘green recovery’ to the Covid-19 crisis.
With other Associates of The Consultation Institute (tCI), I have formed an Environmental Working Group which will be instrumental in helping put in place ‘big’ conversations on climate change adaptation and mitigation, with a strong emphasis on economic and social recovery.
The need for engagement
Efforts to address climate risks will not succeed without a ‘social mandate’ – the buy-in of those whose everyday lives will change as a result. And that’s all of us.
That’s why we consider engagement with individuals and communities as imperative.
Concerns about the climate are rising up the agenda. Research carried out among the British public earlier this year by Climate Outreach found that climate change was second only to Brexit as an issue of national importance. It also found that levels of worry about climate change have doubled in the last four years and that scepticism about climate change is very low, with more than 85% of agreeing that climate change is driven by human activity.
The challenge is to move people on from concern to commitment.
Engagement, not consultation
We see wide-scale engagement, carried out both at a local and central government level, as being key to this.
Why engagement and not consultation?
- Conversations on climate change aren’t a single, one-off with a specific question to be answered: although they may comprise several individual consultations, they are primarily ongoing
- The dialogue takes place over many years – decades even, with no prescribed end date
- The context is broad and will change during the course of that time – Covid-19 has massively impacted the debate, as will many future factors
- And because of this, our background intelligence, stakeholder mapping and the ways in which we engage will continue to change – requiring a flexible engagement strategy rather than a fixed consultation
tCI’s Environmental Working Group
So engagement on climate change is not straightforward: far from it. While being highly susceptible to external influences, it requires a strategic approach: one based on research and clear objectives, one which is flexible in the face of change but consistent in its purpose, and delivers sound feedback data.
It is because of this that we established the Environmental Working Group. Our purpose is to advise local authorities and other organisations on their engagement activity through an understanding of the regulations (such as the Aarhus Convention and the Paris Agreement), to review governance issues (typically responsibility for climate change engagement will be spread widely across an organisation), to hold workshops (on topics such as scoping, stakeholder mapping and behavioural change) and to assist with running communications campaigns as required. We are also able to advice on governance, and provide e-learning and training through workshops.