While carrying out your climate plans, it is crucial to involve and convince some important pivotal figures. If politicians, the secretary or the general manager are on board, you can collaborate far more efficiently and accomplish better results. However, this doesn't seem to be a very easy task... That's why we are giving you a fresh approach on how to involve them, convince them and even get them to be excited about fulfilling your climate plan in your city or municipality!
Start from your decision takers challenges
An ambitious climate plan can scare decision takers, since they very often miss the opportunities of such plan. In order to convince them, it is important for you to focus on how the climate plan can help them conquer their own challenges. In many cases, politicians are looking for ways to impress their colleagues or citizens. Your climate plan can be an interesting tool in accomplishing exactly that! Giving the message in a certain way can do miracles. We'll give you some advise in this article based on our own experience in working with cities and regions over 5 years.
Address the decision takers using the four components in the picture below. When you speak their language and start from their challenges, you demonstrate understanding their (strategic) decisions. This allows you to get rid of their stumbling blocks and get them enthusiastic about your climate plan.
1. Reducing costs by answering needs
Short term, inside
Before politicians are going to be willing to support your plan, they will want to know how it fits their personal needs on short term. The most important aspect in this category is of course to make sure they are re-elected. Make sure to emphasize (depending on the situation) some or more of the following arguments:
- Focus on the fact that the climate plan will score with the press. As it happens, civilians are more and more concerned with the environment and climate change. We saw this with our own eyes when over 65 000 people took to the streets for the largest climate protest ever in Belgium.
- If there are some financial benefits, you should definetely emphasize those as well! Saving energy equals saving costs. The measures you could link to saving energy are for example energy scans, renovation of example buildings, installing smart meters, ....
- An important other benefit of climate plans is the increased safety that it brings, as is the case for improved mobility. For example better bicycle infrastructure with clear priorities and correct provisions for vulnerable pedestrians and cyclists, could all have a very positive impact on safety on the road.
2. Decreasing risks
Long term, inside
On the long term as well, politicians are going to want to ensure their position by prioritizing projects that get them to be re-elected. A risk for the more long term type of solutions is that the decision taker is not yet convinced or aware of the benefits of having a progressive climate plan. Compensate their lack of knowledge by mentioning the following effects of a climate plan on local sectors:
- Citizens that are engaged in the climate plan, will have a higher involvement within their city or municipality.
- A healthier environment reduces stress, the amount of burn-outs, ... and it also increases the biodiversity.
- Better mobility will signify higher safety and accessibility.
- The number of inhabitants will rise, which will in turn attract more companies.
- There will be more jobs in your city or municipality because more companies will move in and more sustainable initiatives will get the chance to start up.
- As mentioned before, a more efficient mobility will make your city more attractive to companies. A larger number of companies will make the revenues due to municipal taxes rise.
- By lowering the emissions in your area, on the long term you also reduce the risk for heavy rainfall and droughts. Mostly farmers will be very dependent on these weather changes in the future.
3. Scoring with innovative initiatives
Short term, outside
A decision taker can score immediately with innovative initiatives. The ones that get his support will largely influence his or her image to the public. Politicians therefore prefer to support projects with innovative features, with which they can easily impress the press. A number of examples of such projects can be found below:
- Helping both citizens and companies save money through saving energy using an ESCO, local energy cooperation and a minimal participation policy for local energy.
- It is also important to link initiatives of your climate plan with economical benefits. For example, a higher biodiversity combined with a more attractive mobility plan will increase tourism in your city or municipality.
- Another one that allows you to link your climate plan with economical benefits are renovations of buildings to comply with lower energy standards, they create jobs and support local companies.
- Mobility projects like a bicycle policy or car sharing are also great examples. Make sure to emphasize the fact that it provides a safer environment for children.
4. Strengthen their image with sustainability
Long term, outside
On the long term, decision takes want to be able to talk about their accomplishments during their tenure. Eventually, they're going to want to say "Thanks to me, living here is attractive, choose me!" Your climate plan can be the key to their succes, so it is very important to mention in which ways exactly your plan is going to help them. Below we give you some great examples:
- Greener cities are much more attractive and healthy to live in.
- As a decision taker, you are going to want to bring a credible story. 'Walk the Talk' - Give a good example with your own municipal buildings.
- Emphasize all the measures that will increase the quality of living in your city: acquire sustainable mobility, increased employment opportunities, better infrastructure, elaborate bicycle services and a biodiverse and healthy environment - "All of this thanks to me and the hard work of my civil servants!"
Still not convinced? Refresh their memory and remind them about the immense support that is currently at place in Belgium for ambitious climate actions. An estimated 65 000 people joined the largest climate march ever on the 2nd of december, 2018! It is obvious that including sustainability in your policy in our country is a political opportunity that has to be seized.
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