Creating Change from the Inside Out at Queenstown Lakes District Council

As the impacts of climate change become increasingly apparent, more organisations and governments are understanding the urgent need to take action and the important role their staff have in achieving traction. Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) is one such organisation that has taken proactive steps to address climate change through its internal climate change training program.

Fueled by local residents expectations and recognizing the need to boost tourism growth as a country whose competitive advantage as a destination of choice is tied to its relationship to the land and its image as clean and unpolluted, QLDC recognised the need to start making changes from the inside out and declared a climate emergency in 2019. As a result of this, they developed a Climate Change and Biodiversity action plan which included the need to educate staff on their role in delivering on the Action Plan.

The EAS team helped develop a training program for the council designed to educate and motivate staff across the organisation to take action on climate change in their day to day job. The programme was divided into five parts, one focused on individual staff members interested in understanding their impact on the environment, and the other three were targeted to specific departments in the organisation, such as planning and development, infrastructure, and transport. A separate sessions targeted the senior leadership team to encourage support for the Climate Action Plan from top-level management. EAS team of professionals were able to create technical content and management content to meet the various audiences needs and bring the Council’s Climate Action Plan to life in the various contexts of council Engineers, Planners, Administrators and Senior Managers.

The training covered a range of topics, from the impact of transport emissions in New Zealand and the district to the personal and professional role that employees can play in reducing emissions in their daily work. The programme also featured tangible examples and case studies from around the world to provide staff with real-life examples of successful climate action at local government level.

The program outcomes were highly encouraging, with more than 150 staff members attending the training sessions. The program generated significant engagement from staff, with many questions and suggestions provided during the half-hour Q&A session that followed each training session.

The QLDC’s training program was highly effective in achieving its goals, which included educating staff on the impact of climate change, motivating staff to take action, and building momentum for change. The programme also aligned with the QLDC’s commitment to science based emissions reductions, which requires each division to estimate its emissions and implement greenhouse gas mitigation measures.

The success of the programme has significant implications for local councils and organisations seeking to address climate change. By training staff across the organisation, QLDC has taken a proactive step in building capacity and creating a culture of climate awareness and action within the organisation. This can have a positive ripple effect on the wider community as staff members take their new knowledge and apply it in their daily work and personal lives.

Overall, QLDC’s climate change training programme is an excellent example of how organisations can take proactive steps to address climate change. By educating and motivating staff to take action, the programme has helped to build momentum for change and create a culture of climate action within the organisation. We hope that this programme will inspire other local councils and organisations to take similar action as we all work together to tackle the urgent issue of climate change.

Please contact us if you think your organisation or local council could benefit from such training.

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