Climate Equity–Centered Deliberative Conversations

Increasing diverse stakeholders’ cultural awareness, interaction, and discussion around difficult topics

Serious discussion among multiethnic group, photo by fizkes/Adobe Stock

fizkes/Adobe Stock

Climate equity–centered deliberative conversations (CECDC) intentionally bring together individuals who represent diverse perspectives around a topic—sometimes difficult or controversial—to advocate for tangible, joint solutions that give a voice to all invested in the conversation.

The RAND Pardee Center is a leader in long-range visioning and stakeholder convening related to climate change, using methods for decision-making under deep uncertainty (DMDU). The RAND Center to Advance Racial Equity Policy is a leader in designing systems and policies that work for all people. Together, we are excited to promote CECDC in a variety of settings. Our current project focuses on equitable discussions of emerging technologies and energy sector changes in Kern County, California.

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The CECDC Model

RAND's model for climate equity–centered deliberative conversations starts with centering diverse voices and practices through activities like scheduling hybrid convenings, collaboratively designed research agendas, and recognizing a community's history of change projects. The next key step is ensuring transparent and responsive outcomes; results must be equitably disseminated. This in turn leads to reciprocal learning among all stakeholders in the community. Through continuous engagement, this model ensures strategic, community-driven change.

A work-in-progress visualization of the CECDC Model

Building trust in climate equity projects is crucial for their success and long-term impact.

RAND's model for climate equity–centered deliberative conversations starts with centering diverse voices and practices through activities like scheduling hybrid convenings, collaboratively designed research agendas, and recognizing a community's history of change projects. The next key step is ensuring transparent and responsive outcomes; results must be equitably disseminated. This in turn leads to reciprocal learning among all stakeholders in the community. Through continuous engagement, this model ensures strategic, community-driven change.

Equity-centered discussions—especially those involving climate equity—require leaders to act on the following eight steps.

  1. Foster transparency: Provide clear information about the project's goals, objectives, and processes. Ensure that stakeholders understand the project's purpose, how decisions are made, and how resources are allocated. This transparency helps build trust by demonstrating openness and accountability.
  2. Promote inclusive participation: Involve diverse stakeholders from the beginning and include the marginalized communities most affected by change. Actively seek their input, listen to their perspectives, and integrate their feedback into project planning and implementation. This inclusive approach empowers communities and shows a genuine commitment to their voices being heard.
  3. Encourage collaboration: Foster collaboration among stakeholders, including local communities, governmental organizations, NGOs, and experts. Encourage partnerships and shared decision-making processes to ensure that different perspectives and expertise are considered. Collaborative efforts build trust by demonstrating a commitment to working together towards common goals.
  4. Invest in capacity building: Capacity-building initiatives can empower local communities and enable them to actively participate in the project. Provide training and education programs that enhance their understanding of the issues, project objectives, and their rights and responsibilities. By building their capacity, you foster trust by equipping communities with the knowledge and skills needed to engage effectively.
  5. Deliver on commitments: Consistently deliver on commitments made to stakeholders. Follow through on promises, meet deadlines, and provide regular progress updates. Reliability and accountability reinforce trust in the project's integrity and its ability to deliver meaningful outcomes.
  6. Ensure local benefits: Ensure that climate equity projects deliver tangible benefits to local communities. Address their specific needs and concerns, and design projects in ways that enhance social, economic, and environmental well-being. By directly addressing community needs, you can build trust by demonstrating that the project genuinely aims to improve their quality of life.
  7. Plan for long-term engagement: Foster long-term engagement with stakeholders beyond the project's initial phases. Maintain ongoing communication, seek feedback, and continue to involve stakeholders in decision-making processes. This sustained engagement demonstrates a commitment to long-term partnerships and reinforces trust over time.
  8. Integrate evaluation and learning: Regularly evaluate project outcomes, impact, and effectiveness. Share evaluation findings with stakeholders and use them to inform future decision-making and project improvements. By being transparent about the project's performance, you foster trust and show a commitment to continuous learning and improvement.

Building trust takes time and effort. It requires ongoing commitment, effective communication, and a genuine dedication to addressing the needs and concerns of stakeholders.