In Australia, the climate emergency declaration movement was launched in May 2016. Darebin City council was the first to declare a climate emergency later that year and it has since been joined by more than 100 municipalities across Australia, representing over eight million Australians.
Globally, more than 2,291 jurisdictions and local governments have followed Australian councils with climate emergency declarations of their own. Collectively they represent one billion citizens.
These local governments have recognised their important leadership role within their communities. The declarations are an act of advocacy to other levels of Government and an acknowledgement that urgent action is required to reduce emissions, mitigate further warming and, importantly, ensure communities are resilient to the impacts of climate change already underway.
After declaring a climate emergency, a focus on effective climate action inevitably follows. Many councils have created climate emergency plans that outline not just how their organisations will reduce emissions and adapt to a changing climate, but how they will engage their communities to do the same. Many recognise their important role of engaging hard-to-reach and vulnerable communities in the transition.
“The Mornington Peninsula Shire is dedicated to implementing our ‘Climate Emergency Plan – Ensuring Our Future’. As part of our commitment to supporting our community to take action on climate change, we recently partnered with Climate for Change to run ‘Climate Conversations Facilitator Training’ and 'Climate Champion' training, skilling our community members up to run their own climate conversations. Our partnership with Climate for Change has been invaluable in establishing connections with and providing training for our community members in climate action.” - MPSC
“I thought the program was good. Climate for Change has some excellent material and resources. I also appreciate that MPSC is sponsoring this program and other climate action initiatives. Our rates being used for good purpose - nice to see”. - Russell, participant in the Mornington Peninsula’s ‘Climate Champions’ program
Councils are often extremely well-connected to their communities, although effective community engagement, behaviour change and education is still a significant challenge. Running workshops, events, listening posts and consultation sessions often fail to reach more than a small number of already well-engaged community members and their impact is often minimal. Many council officers are grappling with the question of how to reach beyond the ‘usual suspects’ and engage a broader section of people living and working in their municipalities. There is a need to engage local community members as advocates to help communicate the urgency of climate change and connect people with the many initiatives councils offer to help people to reduce emissions.
This is why Climate for Change’s Climate Conversations model stands out as a unique and cost-effective way to engage community members and support the behaviour changes that will help reduce emissions locally. Over the past twelve months we’ve partnered with Glen Eira City Council, Mornington Peninsula Shire, Willoughby City Council and Augusta-Margaret River Shire to adapt our Climate Conversations Program and provide a diverse group of residents with training, tools and support to have effective conversations about climate change within their community.
How it works
Each partnership is tailored to the local context and sees Climate for Change collaborate with councils to run a Climate Conversations Program within their local government area.
Council’s role is to:
- Recruit local community members to volunteer as Climate Conversation facilitators.
Our role is to:
- Adapt our Climate Conversation script to reflect council's strategic priorities regarding climate action.
- Train two, three or more cohorts of facilitators.
- Provide ongoing support to facilitators, including regular communications and monthly up-skill events.
- Report monthly on key program metrics regarding reach, audience and impact.
After we’ve worked with Council officers to adapt the Climate Conversation script, slideshow and calls-to-action to the local context, we deliver training and support for two to three cohorts of up to 15 Climate Conversation facilitators in the local government area in three-month stages, over a period of six to 12 months. Training of new facilitators involves a mixture of online self-directed learning, live classroom-style sessions (delivered online) and mentoring (most often delivered online). We then support these volunteers with coaching and training on an ongoing basis.
Adapting to the local context
Local governments lead excellent initiatives to support residents to reduce waste, use sustainable transport, install solar, shop locally, eat less meat and so much more. Our partners have tied these initiatives into the Climate Conversation program to engage local communities and link them to these programs. Here are the sign-up actions supported by two of our partner organisations:
The Climate Conversations Program has a proven record of reaching new audiences and inspiring them to take action. Facilitator training is also an excellent way to engage climate leaders and equip them with skills that they can apply in a range of contexts. Our impact report outlines the power of this program.
Ready to take your local government to a new level of community-led climate action? Complete this short expression of interest form and one of our team members will be in touch.
- Mike McEvoy, National Program Manager, Climate Conversations Program