Climate change is an issue facing all of us. Community awareness and engagement around how to deal with climate change is something that a number of councils are working towards.
Articulous recently worked with Moreton Bay Regional Council to plan how to engage with their local communities to communicate climate change related risk and build resilience.
The Council’s objective was to prepare the community for the more frequent, larger and longer lasting extreme weather events that Australia is experiencing, including heatwaves and sea level rises.
In the case of heatwaves, this pattern is expected to increase the number of heat-related illnesses and deaths in Australia, particularly within more `at risk’ community sectors, including the elderly, the very young, people with a disability, CALD communities, low income households, and those with existing illnesses.
Sea levels on the east coast of Australia are currently predicted to rise by 1m by the end of this century.
Through its engagement, Moreton Bay Regional Council aimed to:
- Raise awareness within the community (particularly `at risk’ groups) of the very real risks that extreme weather event related conditions pose to health, safety and property
- Facilitate behaviour change that practically builds both individual and community level preparedness for climate change related extreme weather events and in doing so reduces their impact on health, safety and property
At Articulous we really enjoy working with the challenges that the future presents us, particularly with the ‘tough’ projects like dealing with climate change.
When engagement gets tricky: tips to get you across the line
A question we hear time and time again from our clients is how to tackle difficult engagement.
Whether it be highly emotional issues, opposing viewpoints, lack of strategic direction, or differing levels of commitment – engagement can stop short in its tracks without the right approach.
The following tips will help you to navigate often tricky situations:
- Understand your stakeholders and their needs. Undertake a risk analysis to ensure you know their key issues, concerns, requirements and how you might approach the engagement.
- Have clear objectives around the engagement, don’t stray away from what you are trying to achieve. This is when things can become challenging.
- As the engagement progresses, be prepared to make changes. Engagement pathways can change depending on influencing factors such as political or social environments.
- Treat everyone with respect, give them equal voices and make them feel heard. You may need to make tough decisions along the way, but your process will be respected.
- Keep records, follow up, communicate outcomes and be willing to accept feedback on your approach.
- Try to keep the emotion out of it. Stakeholders can get emotional about an issue, but as professionals your job is to be objective with your approach.
- When you feel your engagement is not fulfilling its objectives, or there’s a lack of commitment, review what you’ve done and re-assess your strategy. Don’t be afraid to take a different approach.