Community insight #2 – the community and environment

In the second part of our Insights series, we unpack the many shades of green and take a more detailed look at what community and environment issues really are.

Aside from the technology and data, one of the biggest changes we’ve seen is how much more closely people are understanding what it means to be green/environmentally aware/sustainable.

We analysed that data and we’ve identified these five key issues we must consider when we’re engaging with the community on environmental issues:

Issue 1: environmental Values can be different

Compare people’s values – or what they say are their values – with the choices they make. This helps to identify the difference between intention and action.

For example, saying you’re green or aware about environmental issues could mean:

  • you like to see protected green spaces or
  • you prefer to eat organic food.

In other words, the two are not the same: the values are very different.

Issue 2: ‘Green’ means different things

Valuing green spaces doesn’t necessarily mean people want pocket parks in their neighbourhoods.

Ten years ago, every development put in pocket parks as part of their walkable communities’ strategy to create a greener environment and address what were then emerging concerns about the community and environment.

But in some parts of Australia when people say ‘green’, they mean shaded streets. They’re worried about urban heat islands.

In other parts of Australia, more green spaces actually means more active parks. Or, large tracts of protected areas.

So we can’t assume we know what everyone means by ‘green.’

issue 3: Communities are ready to act on environmental issues

People aren’t having conversations about whether or not climate change is occurring or why.They can see the changes in their own environment. Remember, ordinary folk often feel these impacts faster and harder.

People are talking about what they can do today.

They want solutions that they can act on, and that leadership can act on.

Issue 4: Small-scale environmental actions add up

They’re telling us that they are willing to take small-scale actions, often – even if those actions won’t save them money.

Some of those small actions include:

  • reducing energy or water usage
  • spending the time and money to refit their homes to stop wasting water or power
  • changing their buying habit to reduce the number of single-use items they use.

Issue 5: Big-scale problems need radical solutions

If people are given the right information, and we’re honest about the real challenges, then people can and do suggest radical but achievable solutions, like:

  • underground high-rises to maintain green spaces
  • Using drones to airlift people in and out of remote areas to reduce surface travel
  • introducing energy and water reuse schemes in micro grids to service local areas.

These are just some of the radical solutions that the community can see. They’re often more radical than leadership thinks they would be!

Look for the more issues and solutions in our Insights series – what the community thinks of data and technology.