In a democracy, four groups (local
governments including their city staff, community members, organizations
and activists, business leaders and citizens) will have a stake in any
program to protect the climate, and should be involved in the creation
of the plan. Whether your city has decided to engage stakeholders in
the goal setting process or has decided to announce a climate protection
agreement as an executive action, learning how to engage the various
people in your community who will be interested is an important step in
developing and following through with Climate Action Plan programs.
Many of the programs described in this manual can only be done with the
support and enthusiasm of the community.
If you are reading this manual
it is likely that you are already engaged in Climate Protection. To
ensure that your town makes climate protection a priority, it will be
necessary to involve city officials and staff.
Mayors who sign the
Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement (MCPA)
commit themselves to reduce GHG emissions. In most cities, however,
programs to achieve reductions will be implemented by city staff. These
individuals will oversee programs to save energy, to educate the public,
and to work with the community. They will measure the impacts of
programs, and will make adjustments as the programs unfold. Staff
members may know little at first about global warming or the science
behind it. An internal education program to bring city staff up to
speed on the issue is important. With support of local non-profits,
such educational materials as this manual, trainings, and attendance at
conferences and workshops, staff can get the support they will need to
implement a successful Climate Action Plan.
Resources for city staff are listed at the
end of this chapter.
A good first step is to
determine whether your community has signed the MCPA. If not, consider
whether your Mayor might be interested in joining the over 355 mayors
around the country who have.
Research has shown that even in
many of the cities in which the mayor signed the MCPA, city staff
members were unaware of this and uncertain how to proceed.
Remember that in any entity as large as a city government, there are
differences of opinion, and a whole array of historical vested
interests. Often climate protection programs originate in an
environmental office, or an executive office. Officials in public
works, utility services, vehicle operations and other departments may
not view proposed changes as enthusiastically. It will be important to
ensure that these people are given a way to get involved, that their
opinions are heard and their expertise solicited.
Even if a mayor has
signed the Agreement, city staff may be unsure which steps to take
next. One of the first actions to consider is to embody the commitment
in a formal resolution of the
Passing such a resolution not only highlights the importance of climate
change to elected officials. It also offers an opportunity to educate
the public and the local government staff while laying out a plan of
action and implementation. Some cities have proceeded without such a
resolution, but going through the political process to make the
Agreement official will help give it legitimacy and longevity.
cities have passed may be helpful models for government staff:
For a sample
resolution outlining a city’s commitment, view the city of Seattle Resolution.
from a city participating in ICLEI’s Cities for Climate Protection
The sample above
can be modified to include language specific to a particular community.
See how the city of Carbondale, Colorado
has personalized its resolution.
City staff has the power to place climate
protection as a high priority, or to undermine efforts even if the mayor
believes this should be a focus. Helping staff to understand the importance of the issue, their
role in achieving climate protection and how this can improve their work
on behalf of their community can dramatically strengthen a program.
organizations work on climate protection, from the local level to the
national stage. Some groups bring pressure for change, while others
provide excellent information. Some can even provide financial support
for carbon reduction programs. For example, the information in this
manual is available due to the partnership between Natural Capitalism
Solutions a non-profit, and Paradigm Nouveau, a L.L.C., for-profit
company. The city of Ballard, Washington’s ‘carbon neutral’ goals are
being put forth and implemented by the local non-profit, Net Green.
Many NGOs, local and national non-profits can bring specialized
resources to help stakeholder groups in planning and implementation.
The city of Denver, Colorado conducted its carbon baseline by using
local university students, supervised by a professor working with city
staff. Many houses of worship have made climate protection a priority,
reducing the energy that they use, holding educational programs for
their members and speaking out on the issue. Program planning
efforts will benefit from inviting all interested elements of civil
society to be involved at the earliest possible stage.
community leaders should be invited to participate in a climate
protection program at the earliest possible moment. Often business
leaders are ignored as such programs are developed, and may feel that
proposed changes will negatively impact their businesses. In fact, many
carbon reduction programs will save businesses money and will strengthen
the entire economy, but unless the business case is explained, the
commercial sector may react negatively. The Business Case for Climate
Protection section in the Why Act Now chapter of this manual contains
information that can be provided to members of the business community.
The early participation of business and community leaders will
significantly improve chances for success.
Finally, even the
most aggressive program will fail unless citizens understand and give it
legitimacy. It is crucially important to educate and involve citizens
at every step of a climate protection process. Many mayors have taken a
leadership role by signing the Climate Protection Agreement. But achieving
reductions, especially significant ones will depend on the willingness
of the public to participate.
leaders, many citizens may feel that protecting the climate will cost
them money, require higher taxes, stifle their quality of life and
otherwise bring changes that they will not like. It is important to
explain how reducing the use of energy saves money, increases community
security, strengthens the economy and can be achieved with a minimum of
disruption. It is also worth helping the community to understand the
significant disruption that will come from allowing global warming to
continue. An educated citizenry is one of the best assets that any
community can have.
Cities can take many
approaches to engage its stakeholders. This manual presents several
strategies so that you can determine which one works best for you. The
following three strategies: LASER, Tools of Change and Businesses for
Social Responsibility lay out specific steps organizations can follow to
engage their stakeholders. Each have a different audience and purpose,
but follow similar processes.
LASER, Local Action
for Sustainable Economic Renewal, created by Global Community
and Natural Capitalism Solutions
was developed for use in communities interested in economic renewal and
in developing sustainability programs. This free tool offers an array
of best practices, tools and templates that communities throughout the
world can use. You can download it for free through an interactive web
In the first chapter, LASER describes the stakeholder recruitment
process and the importance of creating a community vision to bring the
community together and motivate it to achieve its goal.
is founded on the principles of
community-based social marketing,
The web site offers specific tools, case studies, and a planning guide
to help people take actions and adopt habits that promote health and/or
are more environmentally-friendly. The web site includes the best
practices of many other programs - practices that have already been
successful in changing people's behavior. The planning guide describes
the step-by-step processes necessary to change a community’s behaviors.
This site also provides information on clear tools to use in addressing
for Social Responsibility
(BSR) is a non-profit organization that provides
information, tools, training and advisory services to make corporate
social responsibility an integral part of a business’ operations and
strategies. BSR describes the importance of engaging the business
community, beyond just “touching base.” It provides clear
implementation steps to achieve success. It is especially important to
present the business case for climate protection (see Chapter 2 of this
manual for how to present this). Showing how the climate change
programs described in this manual make business and financial sense is
an important message. A strong program is much easier to deliver to
local businesses, residents and city planners if it makes economic as
well as environmental sense.
The following is
adapted from LASER’s Stakeholder Recruitment and Community Visioning
Although LASER was written with a focus on community sustainability and
economic renewal, not specifically climate protection, the stakeholder
engagement process has proven successful in communities around the
The first step in the process of developing necessary leadership is to
identify and recruit the stakeholders from the community who have an
active interest in a sustainable future. The legitimacy of the process
will depend, in part, on who is doing the recruiting and how the
Stakeholder Group derives its legitimacy. No matter who you are—mayor,
municipal employee, business leader, community activist—you need allies
to enable a major carbon reduction effort to succeed.
Step One: Gather a Core Team
The Core Team could be as small as three people, but should not be much
larger than seven to ten. It should include people
who have credibility within the community. Ideally, it will ideally
reflect experience from such sectors as business, government and civil
society. The Core Team should agree on the general direction of the
project and work to become a functional unit before reaching out to the
rest of the community. At a minimum, those you select for your Core
Team should have thoughtful and optimistic personalities, good
interpersonal skills and a capacity to have fun together while getting
hard work done.
Consider the following sources of potential candidates:
Local activists within or outside local government
Members of governmental boards or commissions
Leaders of organizations dedicated to community improvement
Leaders of organizations working on environmental issues
Local Service Clubs: Rotary, Lions, etc.
Local youth leaders
Businesses that benefit most from a healthy community
Leaders of Faith Communities
The initial responsibilities of the Core Team include:
Identifying the scope of the project
Developing a budget and planning schedule
Recruiting a Stakeholder Group
Identifying the other plans and processes that need to be integrated
Preparing the materials and presentations that will be used to invite others to participate.
Step Two: Gather Stakeholder Group
A Stakeholder Group gathers a
representative number of interested parties together. A group of 30-40
people is an effective size, but it can be as many as a couple hundred,
depending on the needs of the community. This group will provide the
leadership in creating a shared vision and plan for local climate
protection. In addition to a broad
cross-section of the community, the Stakeholder Group can include all
the various town leaders—department heads, for example, and the heads of
significant local institutions. They all will benefit when others see
the links between what they do and the value they add to the community
as a whole.
Stakeholder Organizations to Take Into Consideration:
Small, medium and large
intensive and non-intensive businesses
Businesses with old and new
technology that addresses climate
Organized civil society groups
Schools and universities
recruit business leaders to the process, it is important to understand
what will motivate them. For example businesses may be more motivated
by other business leaders than government or community organizations, so
recruiting a prominent business person early on increases the likelihood
of others becoming involved. Giving the business people credit and
publicity for their involvement will appeal to their
interests. Be prepared to take. some additional time and effort to meet
with different business people, get their feedback and suggestions for
how the process should work, and help them understand all the benefits
of a more vibrant local economy.
want to set up special meetings initially for various stakeholder
groups, to help them feel at home in the process and have a voice in the
way it is structured. This may mean meeting for breakfast instead of in the
evenings, for example and having very specific and short agendas with
clear outcomes. Empowerment—the clear connection between what people
suggest and decide and the way a pubic process works—is one of the most
successful ways to engage people and keep them engaged.
Disempowerment—overriding decisions that don’t fit with the style of
city leadership or reversing course
midstream without consultation—is an equally sure way to make people
drop out of processes like this.
Step Three: Develop Group Process Skills
Once the Stakeholder Group has been convened, it is important that they
develop a shared idea about how they will work together, how meetings
will be conducted, what the planning schedule will be and how conflict
will be resolved.
Step Four: Learn to Manage Conflict and Make Decisions
All teams must recognize
the need for non-violent approaches to relationships, both within their
groups and in the community at large. Moreover, the members of these
groups will need to accept a responsibility for helping community
members to communicate peacefully, no matter how impassioned they may
also helpful to have decision-making structures articulated in advance,
so conflict will not emerge simply because the decision-making process
is unclear or ineffective. The exact form that conflict resolution and
decision-making procedures will take can vary depending on the group
involved and its particular constraints. Part of any conflict
management procedure should be a clear articulation of the Vision
Statement, Mission and conflict resolution criteria. Achieving
agreement on these matters in advance makes it possible to guide
decisions through any later conflict that may arise.
It is important to first
create a shared vision for the community as a whole, one that looks into
the future and captures the collective aspirations of the people. To
achieve the goal of a democratically-created local vision, you will need
to inspire and motivate your fellow citizens—not only to support the
vision, but to take an active role in defining it.
A vision is a positive
forecast of the way we want the world to be, an affirmation of values
and hopes, an image of the destination to guide our journey. The
language of the Vision must be simple enough so anybody can understand
and get excited about it. It must reflect shared values and
convincingly depict a community changed for the better. The process of
defining your Vision should be future oriented, and allow people to
bring their imagination, their creativity and their hearts.
When visioning processes
work, they motivate people to conceive new ventures and new activities,
to create unexpected opportunities that would not have arisen if it
weren’t for the collective creativity put to work and the new
connections made. Visions that reflect the community’s aspirations can
generate goals that people will want to work for, and make it easier to
develop practical strategies and targets.
How is it possible to
articulate a shared vision for an entire community? This is a huge
task, and one that can easily fail if you don’t take the time to engage
the whole community in the process.
must a vision reflect the core values of the people, it must come from
the people. A vision statement drafted by a few people in
leadership—even with the best intentions—will never engender the sense
of ownership and common purpose that comes from full community
participation. That is why it is important to work through the public
Depending on the size of
your community, recruiting participation can be done by asking the
community to submit vision statements through the media, or holding a
community meeting where individuals can voice their opinions, etc.
The public participation process can
generate an enormous amount of information about what people want to see
in the future. In the city of Calgary, over 18,000 people answered the questions the Stakeholder Group
asked the community—online, at festivals, in schools, during meetings,
on the street, in their workplaces, in their utility bills and in the
newspapers. Your Stakeholder Group will have to find a way to compile
and digest all the information that is collected. The more successful
the public participation activities have been, the more daunting this
project will be.
Stakeholder Group might want to set up a subcommittee to read all the
information and prepare a report. This subcommittee could also take
responsibility for preparing the first draft of a vision statement.
Even if the vision is
properly developed, truly reflecting the hopes and aspirations of the
community, it can still fail in its purpose if the leaders don’t “get
it”—if they see it only as words on paper. A leadership that shares the
vision will respond to its community with excitement and a sense of
possibility. Among citizens, likewise, an inspiring vision statement
can create a wellspring of energy and commitment.
Creating Excitement and Momentum
basic premise of this approach is that genuine community transformation
is built on vision, imagination, courage and other human qualities that
unite us across our differences. People do not necessarily get excited
about a meeting to discuss new types of loan funds, but they do care
about preserving what is special about their home towns. They care
about their own ideas being heard in the process. In every stage of
your activities, from initial surveying to the final adoption of the
plan, you can draw on the creative and spiritual resources of your
community through the arts, celebrations, challenges, friendly
competition and even humor.
Asking the Right Questions
the first tasks a Stakeholder Group can take on is to develop a set of
questions to elicit
meaningful feedback from the community about the future in general.
This is not so much to gather data as it is to identify hopes and dreams
(the data will come later). The questions should be broad in nature,
but can also touch on specific issues. The important thing is to keep
the questions open-ended and positive. In this way, even comments about
problems can contain the seeds of their own solutions. The following
visioning questions were used successfully by the city of Calgary’s
imagine Calgary Project:
What do you care about in Calgary that you want to pass on to future generations?
What is it like for you to live here?
What changes would you most like to see?
What are your hopes and dreams for Calgary in 100 years?
How could you make this happen?
Examples of Climate
Related Questions that would work well:
How could climate
change influence our community?
How can you
reduce the use of energy?
What are ways our
community could benefit from energy efficiency, renewable fuels, or less
How could you
contribute to protecting our climate?
Notice how the questions
are positive, action oriented and personal. This is the type of inquiry
that will elicit the most useful information.
Establishing a campaign
theme can help to galvanize public interest in creating a Vision.
Seattle Washington, for example, named their initiative “Sustainable
Seattle.” Many communities pick a year on the horizon—maybe 20 or 30
years in the future—and incorporate that. Hamilton, Ontario calls their
effort “VISION 2020.” All your efforts at this stage will emphasize the
future of the community.
Ideas for Public Participation
As noted earlier, your planning project
will gain real political support if the broader public understands and
supports it. The Stakeholder Group should identify messages they want
each member to convey to his or her own constituency, from business to
labor to youth to neighborhood interests.
Beyond this targeted
approach, broad community involvement is also essential. To create
this, you need to make creative use of a variety of resources, including
mainstream and community media, publicity efforts, events, and visuals.
This public participation campaign will establish the spirit of genuine
two-way communication. The trick is to create a buzz and find new ways
to listen to people at the same time.
Here are some examples to improve community involvement:
Put up a big suggestion box
in front of town hall, and ask a popular radio commentator to read a
suggestion each week. Have an essay contest on topics related to global
warming—what are the risks of the future in the community, or how your
community could be the “Climate Protection Capital of the World”.
Create contests for ideas or change within school systems.
Put up a big suggestion box
in front of town hall, and ask a popular radio commentator to read a
suggestion each week. Have an essay contest on topics related to global
warming—what are the risks of the future in the community, or how your
community could be the “Climate Protection Capital of the World”.
Create contests for ideas or change within school systems.
Start a community-wide
Internet listserv. Develop a web page on which anyone can contribute
his or her thoughts, events and community building ideas. Do training
with local high school students on using interactive software and ask
them to help their parents get involved.
Facilitate the organization
of citizen-led meetings to mobilize public participation in identifying
community priorities. Elect representative community development groups
to plan local initiatives and build dialogue and cooperation with local
Start sending press
releases to local papers, telling them about good things that have
happened and people who have made a difference—from the students who are
turning out lights in classrooms to the elders who are switching to
compact fluorescent light bulbs downtown. As
your climate protection initiative generates ideas and makes people
aware of the good work already
going on, this can become a steady source of good news. Follow up with
reporters and editors and keep your eyes open for advertising sponsors
to underwrite their coverage.
Pull together the artists
in your community for a public art event to create the future. Find a
big canvas that everyone can draw on. Make musical instruments
available for improvisation. Bring recycled materials for people to
make sculptures. Have lots of food and activities for young children.
Every single community has
something it can celebrate. Find an excuse for a party, line up some
local sponsors, and celebrate what the community will look like in 5,
10, or 20 years. A futuristic birthday party. Have a parade. Invite
politicians to dress like they’ll look in 15 years. Invite young people
to be the politicians for a day. Make a huge paper maché statue in the
middle of town to commemorate the celebration.
People like a challenge.
They like friendly competition, and demonstrating what they do well.
Sponsor a prize for the local business with the highest score on energy
efficiency. Give awards to people who have made the world safe for our
ways to make people laugh, from street theatre to standup comedy. The
tough issues facing communities may not be funny, but our
mistakes dealing with them usually are.
Climate activists have been
preaching environmental disaster as a sole motivator for far too long.
People are not motivated by fear and guilt as effectively as they are by
hope and novelty.
The main message about
engaging all sorts of different groups that can be considered “the
public” is to go to them and meet them on their terms, rather than
having them come to you. Ask to be put on the agenda for their regular
meetings; attend the festivals and functions; get invited to speak at
their clubs, churches, synagogues, mosques and community suppers—all of
these are as important as holding meetings at city hall.
Within the business
community it is important to appeal to the things that businesses find
important. Find ways to promote those businesses that are participating
in your project, such that other businesses want to get on the
bandwagon. Full page ads with business logos, news stories about how a
particular business is cutting its emissions, awards to businesses for
innovation, future thinking, community service—all of these techniques
will help you win credibility and participation from a group that is
often slow to get involved.
Portland, Oregon does this by awarding the BEST (Businesses for
Environmentally Sustainable Tomorrow) award each year to seven different
companies demonstrating excellence in
business practices that promote economic growth and environmental
They post the winners on their web site and hold an award ceremony
to present the award to each winning organization.
Completing the Vision
Once the stakeholders have
come up with a draft vision statement, bring it back to the community to
discover whether it captures their ideas adequately. Publishing it in
the paper with an easy way to respond, discussing it at city council
meetings, holding meetings with many of the same groups that contributed
at the outset—all of these techniques can help the Stakeholder Group
determine if what they have drafted successfully reflects the
aspirations of the community.
The Vision should be a
short, inspirational, compelling statement about what the community
wants for the future. Ideally, it will reflect all the different
aspects of community life, not just economic goals. This is because a
climate protection effort will find its most promising initiatives in
things that meet the broad spectrum of human needs.
The following excerpt for
Cambridge, Massachusetts’ Climate Protection Plan
is a good example of how a vision statement around climate protection
can be worded.
In 2025, we see our world and city doing
things better and smarter. We live and work in “energy smart” buildings
that use readily available technology to maximize energy
efficiency. Computerized controls on heating, cooling, and lighting
systems automatically adjust for daylight levels and turn off when rooms
are vacated. Appliances and office equipment use much less energy for
the tasks they perform. Geothermal heat pumps eliminate the need for
furnaces and boilers in many buildings. The demand for energy
conservation services has created a bustling industry with well-paying
jobs. Compared to 1990, citywide energy use is down by 50%.
Cambridge also has dramatically reduced
its reliance on centralized electricity systems. Buildings do not just
consume electricity; they also produce power. Some have fuel cells that
provide the energy reliability important to Internet businesses, biotech
laboratories, and public safety operations. Solar photovoltaic panels
and roof tiles are common; any excess power they produce is sold into
the regional electricity grid, allowing the building owners to run their
Solar thermal systems are installed to
heat air and to produce hot water, reducing the need for fuel and
electricity. Where electricity from the regional grid is still needed,
users have negotiated contracts with suppliers, often through group
buying programs, to buy electricity from renewable sources. Consumer
demand is driving the installation of wind power turbines in the
Berkshires and offshore, large-scale fuel cell facilities are running on
hydrogen, and landfill gas is being recovered to generate electricity.
Where renewable energy supply is insufficient, natural gas fuels
clean-burning combined cycle generators.
gardens and green roofs are routinely installed on buildings of all
types to reduce the need for air conditioners in the summer and to
reduce storm water runoff to the Charles and Mystic rivers. The city’s
tree canopy has expanded as a result of aggressive planting and
maintenance, reducing energy needs for adjacent buildings and increasing
shading to offset the urban heat island effect. There is enough
quantity and variety of vegetation to support songbirds, and the shaded
sidewalks and pleasant open space encourage people to enjoy the city in
summer instead of fleeing the heat.
Fewer cars with single occupants are seen
on the road. The regional transit system has expanded in response to
demand for more and better service. Vehicles running on alternative
fuels, hybrid technology, and fuel cells have replaced diesel buses.
Cyclists and pedestrians dominate the street instead of automobiles,
since mixed use neighborhoods mean many destinations are within walking
or biking distance. With so many people on the street, crime is
significantly lower; with so many fewer cars, the streets are safer for
Very little material is thrown away.
Products are increasingly made out of recycled materials. Manufacturers
and retailers take back old products for refurbishing or recycling. The
city provides a welcome home for diverse communities with its clean air,
safe neighborhoods, and easy access to jobs, services, and recreation.
Children have a sense that they are partners with adults as community
stewards, and the city is safe for them to explore.
As a result of all these changes, the
buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is abating and the threat
of climate change is diminishing. While past emissions have caused the
climate to shift, changing precipitation patterns, average temperatures,
and sea level, scientists have lowered their concern about the scale of
the impacts. This has happened because the
previous generation recognized the problem and chose to modify their
ways to protect future generations.
LASER provides a database of communities both throughout the workbook
and as additional resources on its web site.
information comes from the Tools of Change web site. Their planning
guide is designed to help organizations plan, by providing space on the
web site to insert their own plans and programs. The planning Stages
for any program to engage community members
process is broken down into the seven sections below. More detail on
each section is available on the web site.
Targeting the Audience
Choosing Tools of Change
Financing the Program
In this stage you
will work to identify the objectives you aim to achieve. This should be
done through first evaluating the current situation, then setting the
specific actions you want your stakeholders to undertake. You must also
determine measurable objectives and how you are going to measure the
success of meeting those objectives.
any organizations you would like to partner with to achieve your
objectives. Make sure to assess the pros and cons of partnering with
each organization, what can you benefit from in particular from working
with each organization.
It is important to
gather as much information around the subject prior to engaging your
stakeholders. This means doing literature reviews, speaking with area
experts, contacting other cities with similar programs, and getting a
sense of your communities existing opinions and behaviors.
Targeting the Audience
Determine what group
of people you most want to reach through your program. Who will have
the greatest opportunity to change their behavior and reduce GHG
emissions? What group of people are already interested, but do not have
the information to act?
Choosing Tools of Change
You must decide now
how to best motivate action in your target audience. What tools will
engage individuals to make changes, continue the momentum of programs,
spread the education, and remind individuals to act. This will also
involve creating an effective marketing mix with a variety of messages
strategies to engage community members are:
Building Motivation Over Time
Financial Incentives and Disincentives
Obtaining a Commitment
Overcoming Specific Barriers
Vivid, Personalized Communication
Home Visits Mass Media
Neighborhood Coaches and Block Leaders
Peer Support Groups
School Programs that Involve the Family
Work Programs that Influence the Home
Financing the Program
The best way to
ensure a program will continue over time is to design it to pay for
itself. To achieve this goal it is important to:
Assess the value of and charge for the promotional opportunities you provide (coupons, demonstrations, referrals, advertising, public relations opportunities). What other promotional opportunities could you offer?
Assess the value of and charge for the products and services you provide. What other products and services would add value for your participants?
Choose low cost/low
maintenance/high impact program activities . . . These programs are highlighted in the Best Bets Section of Chapter 5.
Obtain funding from partners who benefit from your program or who want to encourage what you are doing.
Tie program activities to ones already being carried out by your organization and its partners
City of Boulder is working
with its utility, Xcel, to assess carbon fees (based on a successful
2006 Ballot Measure) on Boulder’s residents and businesses.
partnerships with program delivery organizations, such as service clubs
and community associations, who can offer volunteer labor on an ongoing
It is important for
any program to decide what measures to monitor frequently or at major
milestones. For programs designed to educate, it might make sense to
have a control group. Measuring and reporting performance is discussed
later in this manual, Chapter 7: Monitor and Verify Results.
Tools of Change
provides numerous case studies about organizations and the specific
programs and social marketing tools they used to be successful.
businesses can use to engage their stakeholders are very similar to the
measures city officials can use to involve the community in Climate
Business for Social
Responsibility (BSR) is a leading global resource for the business
community and thought leaders around the world. BSR equips its member
companies with the expertise to design and implement successful,
socially responsible business policies, practices and processes.
According to BSR,
company approaches to developing stakeholder engagement are as many and
varied as the types of engagement and the companies' motivations behind
them, which range from crisis management to business strategy
development. Regardless of the type of engagement, these key issues
should be considered:
Build the Business Case
This is the first and most important step
before entering into stakeholder engagements. Determine the specific
goals being addressed and how the stakeholder relationship will help
meet those goals. Whatever the goal, it should be articulated as
specifically as possible. Among other things, this will help "sell" the
benefits of the stakeholder relationship to and help stakeholders
understand why the
parties are entering into this relationship.
Opportunities and Risks
Part of the business
case should include a rough cost-benefit assessment of the actions
proposed. Costs can include the time, personnel, and resources that
need to be committed to the relationship, the potential loss of market
share or reputation that could result if things go poorly, and potential
negative reaction among shareholders. It also is important to consider
the risks associated with not acting at all. At the same time, take
stock of the potential opportunities, including improved access to new
markets, increased sales, greater public support (which could translate
into tolerance of future mistakes or mishaps), improved morale, and
Do Your Homework
stakeholder organizations with which to partner or engage, and conduct
due diligence before contacting them. Use leaders of stakeholder groups
to identify other individuals or groups who should be involved. Each
stakeholder group has unique issues, interests, and willingness to
engage in a partnership or dialogue. Learn about organizations with
which you share vision or values, and, when appropriate, be willing to
engage even your toughest critics. Find out each organization's
motivations for partnering with you. Check a potential partner's
reputation, read its publications, scan its web site,
and research media clips about the group. Check references: Was the
group open-minded, fair, and positive? Did it keep its promises?
Important factors to
consider before actual engagement are the expectations of stakeholders
from engagement. What are the respective drivers for stakeholder
engagement and how will they influence the initial basis for
understanding? Are there issues of language, jargon or technical
knowledge that will hinder communication and understanding? Has it been
a conflict situation where the different parties are sitting at the same
table for the first time, or is it a multi-sector working partnership,
where each party has different perspectives on successful outcomes.
Get to Know Each Other
"Walk a mile in each
other's shoes," is the advice of one stakeholder engagement expert.
Whether using one-on-one meetings, group interviews, focus groups,
workshops, seminars, public meetings, questionnaires, web-based
discussion forums or stakeholder panels, work to understand each other's
viewpoints. Be as open and candid as possible in answering questions.
Be willing to ask and be asked candid questions. Become as comfortable
as possible with the specific individuals with whom you will be
partnering. Keep in mind that partnerships are formed among
organizations but succeed because of individuals.
Clarify the Agenda
between stakeholder groups should have a specific agenda, timetable, and
goals—ideally, created and agreed upon by all parties. Determine what
the deliverables will be, and who will deliver them. Ensure that the
goals are both aggressive and manageable. Most experts say that such
relationships should have a fixed duration so that projects don't drag
on. Even if a stakeholder relationship succeeds it may be good to
disengage for a while to gain perspective on the relationship and the
value—or lack thereof—it has brought.
Agree on the Ground Rules
Find ways both
parties can benefit and further their objectives, and ensure that the
risks and benefits to both sides are equitable. There are a myriad of
ground rules to consider. How much of the project will be publicly
disclosed -- and by which parties, when, and under whose control? If
there will be costs involved, who will bear them? Be careful where
money is involved. Make sure it is well understood by all parties what,
if anything, is expected for the money.
Get Top-Level Support
To give weight and
credibility to the relationship, it should involve those high up in all
the participating organizations appropriately from the onset of the
relationship. This lets a partnership operate easily within the rest of
the organizations and displays each organization's commitment to other
partners. Lack of top-level
support can greatly undermine a partnership's chances of success.
Speak with One Voice
Designate someone as
the principal contact for the project or relationship. As much as
possible, flow communication with the stakeholder group(s) through that
individual to avoid conflicting information and to ensure that you are
communicating a consistent message.
Harness Proven Tools and
engagement may appear to be outside the normal realm of daily
management, it can benefit from the application of some of the business
tools and resources existing within companies. Examples include
professional meeting facilitation, the use of indicators and goals to
measure metrics and milestones, and information management systems to
compile, track, and communicate information.
It is not enough for
a government to listen to its stakeholders, or use the process to
legitimize decisions without the possibility of change or influence.
Ask: "Are we doing this because we genuinely feel stakeholders have
something to contribute or is it because we feel we should and think it
will be good for our image?" That is not to say that communities should
(or could) meet all the demands of all their stakeholders.
Analyze and Report the Results
The value of
stakeholder engagement will be enhanced if a community uses a variety of
metrics and indicators and analyzes and reports on them during and after
the relationship to determine whether and how the project met its
goals. Stakeholder-related indicators typically cover such things as
the specific, measurable results of the relationship, third-party
facilitation, and the direct and indirect costs of managing the process.
Periodic reports of the progress of the relationship are valuable to all
involved. At the conclusion of the process, many communities issue a
public report describing the relationship, including the process and the
Understand the "Who, What,
Where, When & How"
In summary consider
Who is involved it the engagement? Engagement may focus on one or more groups. It may attempt to survey all individuals within a
group or to identify a sample that is either representative or able to provide information of particular value.
What is the subject of engagement? Engagement may focus on a particular issue, or may be linked to a particular part of an
organization's decision-making process. In some cases, there may be no clearly formed subject of engagement - the point is to allow the stakeholders to understand each other better and to allow important issues to arise unforced.
Where does the engagement take place? This may be driven by the use of a particular technique, for example the use of the Internet or postal questionnaire.
When is the engagement undertaken? The engagement may be a one-off process either to begin a process of debate or to close off a decision.
How does the organization engage with stakeholders - which methodologies and techniques does it use? A variety of techniques can be used to engage with stakeholders, including workshops, telephone hotlines, etc.
Planet – Community Toolkit
Clean Air-Cool Planet, with
assistance from Jeffrey H. Taylor and Associates, have created this
Toolkit to assist communities in implementing sustainable policies and
projects. This web-based "how-to" guide for municipal staff and elected
or appointed representatives provides:
Step-by-step project guides
The Toolkit offers projects focused on energy, transportation, waste and
Employee awareness is defined as the process of informing, training and
involving your employees in any specific issue important to your
organization, whether it be health and safety, waste reduction, or in
the case of Federal House in Order, climate change. Employee awareness
activities in the area of climate change can include, but are not
Distributing climate change information to employees via emails, newsletters, websites or other communication mediums;
Conducting employee awareness and orientation workshops, which include climate change topics such as the science of climate change and actions to reduce GHG emissions and improve energy efficiency;
Establishing employee awareness teams and holding regular meetings to address climate change activities, while assessing new awareness and training opportunities within the organization, and
Including climate change as a topic at staff meetings.
This section provides details on how to develop and implement an
employee awareness program, information on existing awareness programs
and employee awareness tools/resources.
Global Green USA works in partnership with local governments and other
public entities to demonstrate the benefits of green building, outline
options for establishing green building programs that protect local
quality of life and the environment, provide training for staff and
constituents, and encourage the development of incentives for green
building projects. Current and past partners include San Mateo County and
the Cities of San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, West
Hollywood, Santa Clarita, and Irvine.
The website provides details on actions by states and efforts by local
agencies to address climate change, along with links to relevant EPA
voluntary programs that can help states and localities meet their
goals. It also provides a directory of tools that can help state and
local governments inventory their greenhouse gas emissions, analyze
greenhouse gas reduction opportunities and quantify the energy,
environmental and economic benefits of lowering greenhouse gases.
Water utility managers now have a primer to help them learn about how
climate change may affect the resource they manage. In the new book,
Kathy Miller (ISSE) and David Yates (RAL) describe the science of
climate change, suggest how it might affect water resources, and offer
advice on planning and adaptation. The book is one of the first to
address climate change and urban water utilities together. The focus is
on usable information. The book is accessible to people from the
industry, and involves them directly in identifying vulnerabilities and
options for adaptation.
The Clearwater InfoExchange
Stormwater database provides information to assist
councils and industry groups in Victoria Australia to manage stormwater
more sustainably. This site is designed to be interactive so that
councils and other organizations can share their experiences and
Solutions creates innovative, practical tools and implementation
strategies to enable companies, communities and countries to reduce
their carbon footprint. It facilitates stakeholder engagement in such
settings as NGO/ corporate disputes, community economic development and
government climate mitigation programs.
NCS developed this
Climate Protection Manual for Cities presenting case studies, best
practices, cost/benefit analyses, legislation, technical descriptions
and contacts to facilitate climate action planning and implementation.
It explains in detail ICLEI’s five-step process in creating Climate
Action Plans. Helps its clients implement energy efficiency auditing
and retrofits, high performance municipal building codes, transportation
programs, investment in green energy and many other climate protection
Foundation database website is
a resource for communities (their professional planners, public
agencies, and concerned citizens) to identify tools and processes for
better community design and decision making.
The council is using a
multi-stakeholder process to preserve and assess the regional
environment. The three-year program is bringing builders, developers,
environmentalists, social scientists, elected officials, teachers and
many others together to explore the definition of sustainability,
indicators of sustainability and the comparative risks of current and
proposed development policies
Sustainable City Website
The website allows citizens to
engage in the sustainability planning and education process through a
forum on the site. The "listserv" is for broadcasting announcements
about events, workshops, forums, programs, publications, websites and
other resources that are relevant to sustainability issues.