News | Posted December 23, 2022
Pioneering Climate-Ready Community Plans: Place Standard with a Climate Lens
PAS Project Manager, Paul Ede, shares his experience of piloting the Place Standard with a Climate Lens.
“How on earth did you manage to develop a Community Action Plan with such attentiveness to climate issues?” The question was posed to me by an exasperated colleague wrestling with the disconnect between our nationally declared position on the climate emergency and the low levels of climate awareness in some of our communities.
Over the next decade the decisions we make from the grassroots all the way to Parliament will be critical in addressing the causes and symptoms of climate change. It can therefore be disconcerting to analyse community surveys in which just a tiny fraction of responses mention climate resilience as opposed to dog dirt or parking problems. The Plan that surprised my colleague was the opposite of that. Developed by the community in Morvern in collaboration with PAS, the Live Life Morvern Community Vision and Action Plan has climate awareness at its core.
This was realised due a strong commitment within the community to address climate issues and thanks to a timely opportunity for PAS to work with Sniffer and the Place and Wellbeing Alliance to trial the use of an early version of the Place Standard with a Climate Lens.
At the request of the local steering group, we used the Place Standard with a Climate Lens as an action planning tool across three themed online workshops, covering topics from Energy to Transport, Community Life to Land (and Sea) use. The goal was not to treat climate a distinct theme in isolation, but to recognise that climate issues cut across every one of these areas so critical to rural life.
Using this draft version of the tool for action planning rather than diagnosis meant dropping the grading element about how much improvement is required for any of the given 14 themes (we had already used three detailed community surveys to glean this information).
Instead, we rephrased the lens’ high-level questions to generate concrete actions to deliver positive change about the topic at hand. For example, we asked the following questions about the local economy:
- What actions will help Morvern’s local economy thrive in the future? Particularly regarding the following industries: mining, farming, transport, aquaculture, forestry, manufacturing, and other services
- What actions will help tourism thrive in a balanced way in Morvern in the future?
- What actions will make opportunities for employment and training better in the future?
Having broached pragmatic responses to the issues at hand, we then asked participants to share how we could deliver those actions in a way that addressed climate adaptation and mitigation, by drawing on relevant sub-questions provided by the lens.
As you can see, instead of seeing the Place Standard Tool as a rigid method that must be used the same way in all contexts, PAS tends to treat it as a sandbox to use in different ways for different purposes.
Without doubt, using a tool like the Climate Lens can ensure that climate issues are more likely to be discussed. But the Morvern plan emerged as particularly rich because of the depth of activism, energy and understanding already present in Morvern’s population. This is in part a testimony to many local campaigners, school-teachers, ecologists, teenagers and committed citizens. In addition, alongside Live Life Morvern, local activists delivered a climate-themed programme of learning events and community activities as part of ‘Morvern does COP26.’ This led to heightened community awareness at just the right time for the Climate Lens workshops.
Community Action Planning is an art rather than a science. But deploying dedicated tools, drawing on local passion and knowledge, and running a parallel process of awareness raising and education can all maximise the likelihood that communities will produce the climate-ready action plans we so desperately need.
Want to learn more about how PAS can work alongside your community to deliver a Climate-ready Community Action Plan or Local Place Plan? Are you interested in receiving training in using the Climate Lens as part of a wider process of engagement? If so, please email Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org for a chat.