Winchester Climate Action Network (WeCAN)
Winchester City Council, which has an ambitious climate agenda including becoming carbon neutral by 2024 and the wider district by 2030, commissioned CSE for this work.
Winchester Action on Climate Change (WinACC) will support and strengthen climate action in Winchester by inspiring communities – including parish councils in the area – to take meaningful steps forward on climate change issues. We and WinACC will support those already taking climate action and to engage with communities who are yet to do so.
Harriet Samson is managing this project for CSE. “This is a fantastic opportunity to work with a local organisation which knows its community. We’ll offer our wealth of community engagement and communications experience, and our community carbon footprinting resource, to stimulate climate action across Winchester. This is a critical component of Winchester’s ambitions to be carbon neutral within the decade.”
To understand current levels of engagement, all the parish councils and community organisations were invited to complete a survey, the results of which showed where climate action was already happening and where there were difficulties and barriers to meaningful change.
Using CSE’s Impact Community Carbon Calculator we then developed carbon footprint reports for each parish, showing the communities the scale of their carbon emissions and the key sectors and consumption activities that contributed the most.
These reports helped inform local communities where to focus their actions to make the most difference. To help the groups interpret the content of these, we ran a series of three webinars answering questions and discussing the detail and implications.
Climate action days
We ran two climate emergency action days following Winchester’s Green Week to help the parish councils and their residents develop climate action plans, with advice and resources on climate change communications and stakeholder engagement.
Following the action days we provided in-depth communications support to 10 community members, who received monthly climate communications ‘bundles’ each bundle containing ‘raw’ media content on a particular sustainability theme, for a range of channels (i.e. for community newsletters, social media channels, and websites). We worked with Winchester City Council’s communications team to align these bundles with their district-wide communications plan.
Key insights we developed through this project included:
- There is often a vanguard of engaged parish councils and community actors taking sustained climate action. They need to be facilitated to share their knowledge with those who are less engaged but who want to start on their climate journey
- You increase the chances of success by taking a district-wide approach to climate communications which connects what community-embedded organisations’ and councils’ communications.
- There is a critical role for a locally embedded organisation to act as the connector, facilitator and supporter between a district’s community organisations and the council to drive forward climate action.
In the final months of the project, WinACC successfully secured from the South Downs National Park Authority, Winchester City Council and Winchester Rotary to employ a Climate Officer to take the project forward. WeCAN is now actively working to develop climate action plans in 13 parishes across the district.
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