The number of government officials, organisations and academics working on public engagement on climate is steadily increasing. Growing too is recognition of the many benefits that this engagement can bring. Yet conversations between governments and those working in public engagement still too often involve people talking at cross-purposes.
The term ‘public engagement’ is so broad, it can be unclear if people mean communications, public engagement in decision making, or initiatives aimed at changing people’s habits and lifestyles, for example.
This confusion creates challenges for governments at all levels. For less well-resourced governments, it leaves officials needing to spend their limited capacity working out which types of public engagement different resources refer to, and how they fit together. Larger governments are comparatively less stretched in terms of capacity, but in more need of frameworks that set out how different policy professions can best work together. The lack of clarity about what ‘public engagement’ means also makes it harder for officials to ask for and receive the advice they are seeking.
‘What role for government? A practical guide to the types, roles and spaces of public engagement on climate’ starts to bring together thinking from the different fields of public engagement. It is intended as a practical reference for civil servants and officials at all levels of government charged with developing public engagement strategies and frameworks on climate. It will be equally useful to a range of other actors including those advising governments, and organisations beyond government who are seeking to define their own role in public engagement on climate issues.
This guide was kindly funded by Barrow Cadbury Trust and John Ellerman Foundation.
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This guide is published alongside a policy report, ‘Towards a UK public engagement strategy on climate change.’ Led by Climate Outreach, it calls for the UK government to put in place a comprehensive public engagement strategy and outlines the vital components for such a strategy to succeed.