The West Sussex Climate Conversation runs until 6 December 2020 and will look at how our behaviour has changed during the pandemic – for example working from home or exploring locally – and how this has affected our local environment. In this blog, Rachel Carruthers, from West Sussex County Council’s Sustainability Team, outlines the project and invites you to take part by completing and sharing The West Sussex Climate Conversation with your contacts, friends and family members.
West Sussex County Council have secured funding and partnered with Local Partnerships, to support both county council and district and borough authorities in West Sussex to develop a wider public engagement around climate change post lockdown.
Who are Local Partnerships?
Local Partnerships are a joint venture between the Local Government Association, HM Treasury and the Welsh Government, and provide an interface between central government policy and local delivery.
Why a resident’s survey?
In efforts to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus the UK entered a state of ‘lockdown’ from the 23 March 2020 until early June 2020 and again at the beginning of November for a period of 4 weeks. The UK Government has stated that it wants the economic recovery post lockdown to be green. This aligns with the aims of West Sussex County Council (WSCC) who recently adopted a Climate Change Strategy for the next ten years, which includes a commitment to become carbon neutral by 2030.
WSCC want to improve our engagement activity for climate response communications and drive participation rates amongst all groups and especially those who are typically under-represented through our conventional communications channels (younger generation, working families and BAME communities). We want to understand how the changes required during the lockdowns might represent both opportunities and threats to our climate response.
WSCC conducted an online residents survey during the first COVID-19 lockdown period (May 2020). Whilst the focus of this survey was not climate emergency or green recovery there are useful markers in the results which can be built upon.
How was the project developed?
We have worked with Local Partnerships, our Communications and Communities teams, held a workshop with our district and borough colleagues, a representative from SECA, and engaged with our Youth Cabinet members, to develop and establish a baseline of areas and population we are aiming to reach and a common understanding with all partners.
We have developed a Communications and Engagement Plan and a Behavioural Survey to establish how the COVID-19 lockdown measures (and any ongoing social distancing measures) will impact our ability to deliver climate response actions.
The survey link will be shared and promoted across West Sussex via all social media channels, with particular focus on channels used by the demographic we are aiming to reach, such as Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter; various e-newsletters to Town and Parish Councils, community groups, the business community, Youth Cabinet and more.
What happens next?
Information gathered will be used by Councils across West Sussex to help support residents and businesses to continue with, or start more, positive actions.
How can you help?
People can take part in the survey by visiting https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/ClimateConversationWS
and please share with your peers, friends and family across West Sussex. The West Sussex Climate Conversation runs until 6 December 2020. Join the Facebook group #WestSussexClimateConversation and follow us on Twitter @ClimateWS and Instagram @lovewestsussex to join the conversation.