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Look to the Local: Data and Engagement in Environmental and Climate Planning
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April 27, 2022

Emelia Williams and Katie Hoeberling

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Look to the Local: Data and Engagement in Environmental and Climate Planning

Read the full Opportunity Brief here.

To witness transformative work in participatory environmental and climate planning, look to the local. When federal environmental and climate policy stalls, states, counties, cities, tribes, and communities often continue to innovate. Local government is also better situated to work with civil society and communities to test innovations, and they face fewer barriers to trying new models for community-centered collaborative planning.

This opportunity brief focuses on the utility of environmental data and processes and procedures of local community engagement within environmental and climate topics. By leveraging openness to support environmental accountability and collaboration, this brief offers a unique insight into relationships between communities, government, research, tech, and philanthropy. While the issues addressed here are complex, the proposed opportunities seek to streamline and simplify processes. 

This brief presents opportunities as entry points for data-informed participatory governance to support better climate and environmental planning. The opportunities presented here speak to specific participants within policy and planning landscapes: local, state, and tribal governments; communities and community-based organizations; civil society and academia; and philanthropy. While they are categorized by specific sectors, many of the opportunities are multi-sector in application.

Opportunities for Local Governments

For a policy memo specific to local government, please click here.
  • Provide avenues for engagement that respect community time and knowledge
  • Streamline methods of collecting and recording information
  • Pursue models that engage communities in mapping assets and needs paired with direct action

Opportunities for tribal Governments

For a policy memo specific to tribal government, please click here.
  • Develop ways to recognize the place of elders as community sources of historic knowledge
  • Align open data practices with the CARE principles for Indigenous Data Governance

Opportunities for state Governments

For a policy memo specific to state government, please click here.
  • Address structural, cultural, and informational barriers to participation
  • Convene local, tribal, and regional governments to strategize and implement plans
  • Build and resource community and organizational capacity to participate in planning processes

Opportunities for communities & community-based organizations

For a policy memo specific to communities & community-based organizations, please click here.
  • Support government training, value assessment, and learning from communities

Opportunities for civil society organizations & academics

For a policy memo specific to civil society & academics, please click here.
  • Identify spaces for data collaboratives in tandem with communities and local government

Opportunities for philanthropy

For a policy memo specific to philanthropy, please click here.
  • Provide general operating support
  • Support widespread learning and adaptation of resources by amplifying grantees’ work through network-building activities

Recommended citation:

Williams, E., Hoeberling, K. (2022). Opportunity Brief: Look to the Local: Data and engagement in environmental and climate planning. https://www.openenvironmentaldata.org/research-series/opportunity-brie

doi: 10.5281/zenodo.6516003