Leadership and climate action are KLA's bread and butter, or... our solar panels and sun. If you know us, then you know leadership is one of our five core values. We have seen how strong local leadership can make or break a sustainable future, so our focus is squarely on equipping our clients with the tools and skills to navigate difficult decisions, budget restrictions, and competing priorities to create a legacy of leadership.
In fact, we work exclusively with local governments because they can be true catalysts for change. As trusted sources for their community with direct access to their residents, city, town and county leaders can walk the talk themselves, create enabling environments and spur the behavior change required for a more sustainable world.
In this post, we’ll go over six examples of how one of our star clients, Clark County, NV, is embodying leadership in their climate action, and how you can replicate their successes in your community. Just last month, Clark County’s Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the All-In Community Sustainability & Climate Action Plan. This plan is a follow up to the County’s 2020 municipal operations plan, a regional greenhouse gas emissions inventory, and a regional climate vulnerability assessment. The All-In Initiative is a shining example of how a local government can take effective regional climate action through strong local leadership.
Top 5 Tips to Create a Legacy of Climate Leadership
1. Step Up
It takes guts to be a leader. With climate change already taking a toll on our health, safety and economies, the time for waiting around is over. To establish your community as a leader, you must step out of your comfort zone and get the ball rolling with serious action. Leaders don’t wait for others to make things happen; they take initiative for themselves. Find empowerment in pushing the limits in skillful ways and feel confident in going after the course of action that will yield the greatest benefits for your community. Watch Clark County’s launch video to see how the County established itself as a leader that’s stepping up- taking bold action now for a better future tomorrow.
2. Go Regional
Being a leader doesn’t mean going it alone! Working with neighboring communities – those that experience the same or similar threats and opportunities related to climate change – can really strengthen your position. Not only does collaboration widen your scope and improve your results, but it can also save money and time. Funding entities and agencies (like the Environmental Protection Agency) are prioritizing regional partnerships. Instead of multiple individual GHG analyses and climate impact reports, you can slim down costs by combining them into joint projects with your regional partners. Clark County took the lead on leveraging the collective resources of its Southern Nevada partners and was able to execute a coordinated approach to climate action planning that built local capacity and delivered on their goals.
3. Conduct Equitable Engagement
The All-In Community Plan is Clark County’s most inclusive planning process to date, having reached over 220,000 people. The key was their willingness to break the mold and try new approaches. You can do the same if you take strides to engage every community member with surveys, events, and public outreach to ensure your planning process reflects everybody’s needs and priorities.
Just some examples of how Clark County excelled at engagement:
- 157 organizations engaged in some capacity; 64 represented on the Advisory Group
- Two surveys in three languages garnering more than 6,000 survey responses
- Perseverance despite COVID restrictions with a hybrid of in-person and online engagement, including 7 virtual forms
- An Engagement Team that represented the County’s ethnic and geographic diversity and conducted 38 in-person events and presentations
Invitations sent for Sustainability and Climate Advisory Group in the All-In planning process | Demographic information from Clark County community survey respondents
We’ve compiled some hybrid engagement resources along with a more in-depth look at how to incorporate equity in your planning processes.
4. Design for Action
Too often, government plans can emerge from their planning processes with little direction for implementation. This isn’t a “build it and they will come” Field of Dreams scenario. To move more swiftly to action, local governments must leverage data and stakeholder engagement more proactively in the planning process. Take another page out of Clark County’s book: by leading deep stakeholder engagement early on, the County was able to identify barriers, discover opportunities, review potential actions, and build consensus BEFORE the plan was released. That early-process leadership set them up for a smooth transition into immediate implementation.
Check out our Bright Ideas series post for a deep dive into this topic.
5. Stay Accountable and Transparent
Transparency is a guiding principle of the All-In Clark County initiative. To keep the public informed on their planning process, Clark County invested in an online Community Dashboard that integrates the goals, metrics, and actions from the All-In Community Plan and the Government Operations Plan to provide ongoing information and updates to the community. A legacy of leadership also means a legacy of accountability- of taking feedback and constantly improving your processes.
The Action Plan section of Clark County's Community Dashboard allows community members and stakeholders to see status updates on individual goals and actions from the action plan.
Bonus tip: Staff it Smart
Get yourself some superstars like Clark County’s Director of Environment and Sustainability Marci Henson and Assistant Director Jodi Bechtel! Seriously though, it is vital to have dedicated, talented staff leading your climate action planning process. If your community is serious about climate change and wants to show real leadership, you will need experienced staff who are well-positioned, well-resourced and well-respected to get the job done. For Clark County, Marci and Jodi were difference makers. As you're gearing up for new projects, consider how the right people with the right resources could turn your projects into real demonstrations of local leadership.
Which of these tips resonated with you? Are you aspiring to build a legacy of climate action leadership in your community? Let us know! Real, tangible climate action starts in our local governments, and it's up to leaders like YOU to make bold change happen for your community.