Presented By:Jackie Homan / Katie Jepson
The Environment Behaviour Change Project Officer provided a presentation to update the board on delivery of the Behaviour Change Programme and future work.
The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) was commissioned in May 2021 to create a strategy and plan for how the WMCA influence people’s behaviour to achieve net zero by 2041. Within the research, BIT used different framings within environment communications to understand what messaging resonated the most with the public and recommended environmental communications should be kept simple wherever possible and to align messaging on climate change with co-benefits of promoting behaviour changes such as improving health. In addition, BIT surveyed almost 2,000 people across the region to understand the most effective messaging for communications and found the most popular strapline of ‘West Midlands Greener Together’ emerged with branding guidelines and logos now developed and in use for communications by the Energy and Environment teams at the WMCA. The Environment Behaviour Change Project Officer noted however that communications alone would have a limited impact on scaled and sustained behaviour changes and would be most effective in tandem with behaviour change initiatives BIT had identified on three areas of focus for an implementation plan on the natural environment, sustainable food and home retrofit.
The Environment Behaviour Change Project Officer outlined from the presentation an update from the three focus areas of the campaign work for natural environment, sustainable food and home retrofit, noting key highlights to date and future work plans for each.
The Environment Behaviour Change Project Officer noted from the presentation there would also be citizen engagement, which would consist of a Net Zero Panel to allow the public to co-design and co-produce elements of the developing Environment team and Energy Capital work and a West Midlands Greener Together Forum to create a space for environmental non-governmental organisations, community groups, the public and others from across the region to discuss the route to net zero and inspire collaboration. Furthermore, as part of creating a legacy from the Commonwealth Games, the WMCA was in partnership with the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee’s Sustainability team in creating carbon literacy training for volunteers, citizens and businesses within the region to enable people to understand and confidently communicate the climate emergency and identification of actions, as well as the WMCA having successfully applied on to the Local Climate Engagement Programme to support local authorities and partnerships to plan, commission and deliver high quality public engagement with climate decision-making to benefit both the WMCA and the local population.
The Chair remarked on the recent positive climate emergency ratings and rankings of the WMCA and local authorities in the region and thanked officers for their work that reflected a plan for action represented from positive behaviour changes.
The Chair noted his observations from the report and firstly commented on the ‘Right Tree Right Place’ within the Natural Environment Plan to outline the importance and value of tree planting, hedges for biodiversity and risk of gardens not being developed on, loss of trees from people who may see them as a nuisance and collaboration with landowners to identify available land for tree planting. The Chair also noted the importance of sustainable food being local and a skills differentiation between new build and retrofit homes to lobby government through the Sustainable Funding Programme.
In response to a question from Matthew Rhodes who enquired if there would be a link between the tree programme and circular economic opportunities in the use of tree waste being turned in to biochar to fertilise street trees, the Head of Environment advised Birmingham City Council were undertaking work on this with their tree nurseries but that the WMCA could also investigate as part of the circular economic workstreams.
(1) The opportunity and resources available for Councillors through ‘Involves Local Climate Engagement Programme’ on participatory and deliberative public engagement was noted.
(2) The Commonwealth Games Carbon Literacy training for volunteers, citizens and businesses across the region was noted.
(3) The consideration of local leaders to engage in future behaviour change campaigns and support the communications activity was noted.