Involving citizens in your climate plan: an approach that works

Consultancy 4 min read , August 28, 2019

Read this article in another language : Dutch • French • Spanish

Creating a climate plan is one thing, but actually translating it to actions requires support and enthusiasm from the right people. Getting help from motivated citizens will not only guarantee successful climate actions : it will also give you the right arguments to persuade companies and important decision takers to support your efforts. Read on to find out how to get them on board for your climate plans! 🚀

💡 By the way ... this article helps you persuade your citizens, but we also wrote similar articles about getting decision takers and companies excited about your city's climate plan. 🌱

Start from your citizen's challenges

When you're making an ambitious climate plan, citizens might feel uncomfortable with the amount of change you're planning to make. They might be scared that they get left behind or that their life will become less pleasant because of it.

Many citizens think they have to sacrifice a lot with an ambitious climate plan, want to resist and can therefore delay or stop many projects. That's why it's very important to give the message the correct way.

✅ Here's how :

Address your citizens using the four components in the picture below. When you speak their language and start from their challenges, you demonstrate a general understanding of their concerns. This allows you to get rid of their worries and get them enthusiastic about your climate plan. 🙌

Source : Futureproofed

1. Convince them by reducing costs

Short term, inside

If you want your citizen's support, they should trust that your climate plans will fit their own short term needs. Money is a key argument here. Convince them that your climate plan will not cost them money, or even better, that the actions will generate money. These arguments are sure to do the trick :

  • Your citizens will actually make money thanks to your climate plan. A saving energy equals saving costs. 💰You can use this for all energy related measures such as group purchases, energy scans, ...
  • Their homes will get a higher real estate value if they're more energy efficient and if they're located in a green, more biodiverse neighbourhood.

2. Stop their worries by decreasing risks

Long term, inside

Looking at the long term consequences, your citizens might not be aware of the benefits of having an ambitious climate plan. They probably also don't know about many risks that are bound to hit cities that don't act on climate challenges. Definitely point out the positive effects of a climate plan for the following aspects of your citizen's lives :

  • More and more people will commute from and to their work. 🚗 Bad mobility will influence people's lives even more if we don't act on it.
  • As a consequence of the bad mobility and lack of biodiversity, the air quality will get poorer and will influence people's health.
  • Energy costs will increase over the next couple of decades, so it's important to invest in renewable energy and in energy saving measures such as insulation.
  • Real estate values in your city will go down 🏠if the houses aren't in green areas, that are not very accessible with public transportation and that are not energy efficient.
  • Since people prefer to live in attractive cities, more people will move there, taking job opportunities with them and attracting more companies to such areas.

3. Get them excited with innovative initiatives

Short term, outside

Get your citizens excited with innovative initiatives that will make their area appear very interesting and impressing. You can for example highlight the following initiatives :

  • By investing in an energy cooperation, your citizens can make more money than they would if they would just put it in their savings account. It's very low risk and it has a great impact on the carbon footprint of their neighbourhood.
  • With many car-sharing options and a bicycle-centered policy, mobility in your city will be very safe and easy.

4. Give them a good story to tell

Long term, outside

People tend to have a lot of pride about the place where they live. Convince your citizens that they'll be proud of your city's accomplishments once your climate plan is put into action. Why would they, you ask? Have a look at these examples :

  • Having a greener, more sustainable city is fun to live in (think about calm streets, high accessibility thanks to public transportation, many parks, good air quality, ...)
  • Don't focus on how the climate will get better, instead highlight the fact that it will improve well-being in your whole city.
  • Thanks to all your efforts, there will be more job opportunities, better infrastructure, nicer public space, ...
Colors of Istanbul

💡 By the way ... this article helps you persuade your citizens, but we also wrote similar articles about getting decision takers and companies (Dutch) excited about your city's climate plan. 🌱

Local authorities working with FutureproofedCities collaborate better on their climate plan and learn how to involve their citizens in their city or region. Find out more about our tool.

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