Brent Council commissioned a citizens' assembly to address how the Council, local businesses, organisations and individuals could work together to limit climate change. The results informed Brent's Climate Action Plan.
Problems and Purpose
Brent Council commissioned the assembly to address the question:
How can we work together to limit climate change and its impact while protecting our environment, our health and our wellbeing? Consider the Council, businesses and organisations, individuals.
Background History and Context
In July 2019, Brent Council declared a climate and ecological emergency and committed to become carbon neutral by 2030. As part of this process, the Council commissioned Traverse to deliver the Brent Climate Assembly which took place in November and December 2019.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
Brent Council funded the assembly, and they commissioned Traverse to delivery the assembly.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
Assembly members were recruited to reflect the population of Brent in relation to age, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic background and where they live in the borough. 60 were recruited in total to ensure an attendance of at least 50. 53 attended the sessions.
Methods and Tools Used
The assembly relied on a process of expert speakers, question and answer sessions and group discussion. In addition, the process used sticky dot voting to give an indication of levels of support for different ideas.
The following materials were used:
Discovery session posters
Information posters to inform members on:
- Climate change and sustainability in Brent
- Introduction to climate change
- Climate change in a global context
- Agreements, policy and targets for climate change in the UK
Action cards were based on content generated in this second meeting and were used to assess recommendations. They were divided into seven themes. Each card listed an idea to tackle its respective theme and provides a brief explanation of the idea.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
A micro-site was set up prior to the assembly where the wider public could submit their own responses to the question. This was open for comment from October 25th to November 17th. A total of 326 comments were collected, thematically analysed and summarised and fed into the assembly meetings.
The assembly took place over three all-day workshops.
At the first meeting: participants were presented with information on climate science and climate change on a global, national and local level.
At the second meeting: participants were asked to consider responses to climate change in relation to several thematic areas; they were also asked to come up with criteria against which potential actions could be evaluated.
At the third meeting: Assembly members were asked to consider a range of possible actions relevant to the thematic areas, discussing these in groups and then reviewing and voting on the actions to produce recommendations for the council.
To develop recommendations each participant was given 30 sticky dots. These were cast on a wide range of actions across the themes. The distribution of votes across the themes is provided below
- Consumption, resources and waste (358 votes)
- Transport (205 votes)
- Existing housing and buildings (161 votes)
- Nature and biodiversity (157 votes)
- Planning policy and new development (97 votes)
- Adapting to global heating (95 votes)
- Renewable energy (66 votes)
- Politics (40 votes)
In the final report, the Assembly recommends that the council should:
As an organisation
- Be proactive and use different methods of communication to reach different audiences
- Be transparent and open to feedback
- Consider impacts across the whole borough
- Educate and support residents on the most important issues
Help the neighbourhood to...
- Establish a forum, with budget, to generate ideas and hold the Council to account
- Encourage good environmental behaviours at a community level
- Foster local support for green spaces
- Use an “estate representative” system to get neighbourhoods more involved
Help individuals to...
- Be more mindful of how they can help or hinder in daily life
- Be equipped with better information
- Have an open mind towards local action and work with others (neighbourhoods, Council and businesses)
- Transmit more ideas to the council to implement
Help businesses to...
- Behave more positively (through incentives)
- Use fewer resources (through information)
- Contribute to local environment (through deployment of tax revenues)
- Take actions on their own premises (e.g. solar panels, tree planting)
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
At the time of writing, it is unclear what impact the Climate Assembly will have on policy and Brent’s Climate Action Plan. The climate action plan is currently in development and there have been delays with internal governance and translating the report into policy due to the response to Covid-19.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
Want to contribute an analysis of this initiative? Help us complete this section!
This entry is missing citations. Please help us verify its content by adding footnotes.