Community Engagement

Why is Community Engagement Important?

Tackling climate change effectively and rapidly is best achieved if the community is fully engaged. Action must be inclusive and just.   Community-led decarbonisation plans must strive to address the needs of the whole community and ensure a sense of ownership. It is also crucial that everyone has a chance to have their voice heard. This is vital for good Community Engagement.  

Community engagement is an ongoing process involving two-way dialogue throughout the lifetime of the project, from initial contact to completion.  

This dialogue will be extensive and thorough, consisting of alternating phases of information exchange, open discussion, and confirming collective understanding before progressing further. 

Overall, it can be seen as including up to six stages common to good community engagement, to support community-led action.

Key Points to consider when planning Community Engagement:

  • Transparency in community engagement is important. Ensure that the aims of the engagement and intended outcomes are clear, as well as how and when you intend to follow up. 
  • Using a mixture of distinct types of community engagement is key to ensure you can reach as many community members as possible and provide opportunities for them to engage in a meaningful way.  
  • To ensure your engagement activities are as inclusive as possible consider the barriers that might prevent community members from engaging. These might include physical barriers, social barriers, or financial barriers. Think about When, Where and How your events are being held and how these factors might impact inclusivity.  
  • The aim is to create an ongoing dialogue with the community so regular, clear communication is important, along with the opportunity for community members to feedback in different formats.  
  • It is important to build on projects that have already been completed or are currently underway in your community to allow benefit from existing work and knowledge.
  • Language is important; local languages connect people to places and shape a sense of community. Consider running events and producing materials in locally used languages/dialects.  
  • Creative arts are another way to communicate and engage the imagination, both as a way of exploring ideas and for expressing outcomes.  
  • Intergenerational events, which facilitate conversations between the older generation and young folk, offer a chance to explore ideas for the future while drawing on knowledge and experience from the past.  
  • Social media and online surveys can be valuable communication tools but be aware that connectivity issues and differing levels of digital literacy may mean they are not accessible to all community members. Always offer a non-digital alternative.  
  • People need to see the benefit of giving up their time to take part in the community engagement and to understand how the project is relevant to them.  
  • Please see further helpful tips that CEMVO – Community Engagement – Top Ten Tips.docx have shared. 

Case studies

The case studies below illustrate how diverse types of engagement can reach different audiences. They also highlight that it’s often important to go to people where they feel comfortable and in a setting they are used to.

Info

Click the examples below for more info

Climate Festival

Household Survey

Community Meal

Agricultural Show

One to one engagement

Collaborating with other partners