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Cambridge: Community Engagement Partnership approach

Category: Environment
Published: 21 February 2023

Cambridge City Council: Community Engagement Partnership approach

The project

Cambridge City Council is working in partnership with Cambridge Carbon Footprint (CCF) to develop and deliver a collaborative approach to engage residents in reducing their carbon footprint. This partnership includes providing practical tools and resources, delivering training, and running engagement events. Through this action the council aims to galvanise community expertise, energy, and enthusiasm to address the climate emergency.

The council began working with CCF to develop its Cambridge Climate Change Charter, which helped residents and businesses to better understand their own carbon footprint. Residents can make a pledge and sign the charter to demonstrate their commitment to taking action to reduce their footprint.

The council has also jointly hosted engagement events with CCF, using innovative Pecha Kucha’s (a Japanese story telling format) to inspire and engage with residents. The partnership is now developing climate change training for residents which CCF will deliver during 2023.

CCF has also developed the Cambridge Climate Map in partnership with the council, to guide residents to places and resources where residents can seek further support. This partnership approach has allowed the council to play its community leadership role whilst putting power in the hands of local experts. These experts were therefore responsible for development of these innovative engagement tools, utilising their significant experience of working with residents.

The tools were developed in a way that empowered residents to take responsibility for setting their own level of decarbonisation. They help to give residents a sense of agency, and subtly quashes any beliefs that it is someone else’s job to do. For example, the Pecha Kucha has helped to convey positive, empowering stories of local projects, in a new format unheard by many audience members, inspiring residents to engage, whilst the climate Map was a new, creative method of communicating carbon reduction solutions which made it easy and achievable for residents to take action to reduce their carbon footprint.

The benefits

To date, there have been over 18,000 views of the carbon footprint calculator webpage more than 8,000 views of the Action and Advice webpages.

181 individuals have signed the charter pledging to save 263 tonnes of CO2, with a further 27 business signatories, including from Addenbrookes Hospital and both universities.  Over 900 people attended CCF events including 50 attendees to the Pecha Kucha event.

The signatories of the charter form a community of climate leaders, so ultimately, the city benefits from having a community committed to carbon reduction. Residents have benefited from this innovative approach and report feeling more knowledgeable and confident to act, as a result of attending engagement events. Council staff have also enhanced their understanding of behavioural science and community engagement.

The project operates at a local city scale as research shows that to engage people effectively on behaviour change, it’s important to keep it local and relatable. However, the approach is replicable and scalable to other locations and an even wider audience.

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