Taking action for climate resilience requires a spectrum of individual and group skills and capabilities.

We have compiled a list of eight competencies for climate democracy, forming part of Demsoc’s evolving Climate Democracy Model, which highlight how democratic, participatory practices can lead cities and regions to take climate action in ways that reinforce democracy. These competencies are drawn from learnings across Demsoc's climate work, and feedback from city partners and peers.

These competencies are intended to:

  • Provide reflection on competencies present in work programmes for climate action;
  • Help build job and team profiles and recruitment strategies for climate work, for example in bid application and project preparation stages;
  • Identifying gaps and opportunities for competency building within teams, building cases for training and mentoring budget;
  • Calculate the degree of and changes to Competencies for climate democracy in the Canopy for Climate Democracy tool.

8 Competencies for Climate Democracy

1. Active listening and facilitation skills. Makes a conscious effort to hear not only the words that another person is saying but also the complete message being communicated. Has experience in facilitating and guiding organisational and strategic learning work with peers and other actors in co-design workshops, online meetings and other collaborative formats, ensuring space for fair, equitable debate.

2. Active within local knowledge and influence networks. Active and credible member of local ‘knowledge and influence’ networks working across climate, environment and sustainability, with professional and social ties to cross-sector, cross-disciplinary actors from government, industry, academia and civil society. Plays a role in developing, distributing and applying knowledge across the network, and maintains awareness of local opportunities and possibilities.

3. Experience in participatory approaches strengthening democracy. Has led or been part of participatory planning, implementation and evaluation activities e.g. participatory budgeting, citizen assemblies, building and supporting environments for participation and peer learning, and appropriate ways of evaluating impact on democratic institutions. Understands that participation is about decision making processes being more participatory, not just involving citizens.

4. Lived experience of place and community. Lives locally, speaks the same language, and knows the culture, geography and infrastructure of the city and region. Inherently knows the characteristics, meanings and 'deep rooted' identities of the area, benefiting professional and social ties and knowledge of opportunities.

5. Practical and open approach to challenges and decision making. Approaches challenges openly and courageously, motivated by willingness to address pressing community climate adaptation and resilience needs. Has the ability to make good judgements and take quick decisions in collaboration with peers, taking a relational leadership approach.

6. Public policymaking expertise and/or experience. Expertise in influencing changes in public policy on climate at a local, state, or international level, and making decisions regarding those changes. Ideally will have expertise in public policy and planning. Political experience is desirable but not mandatory.

7. Relational leadership, reciprocity, humility and trust. Self-aware, appreciates others' strengths and contributions, and exchanges things for mutual benefit. This competency also draws on qualities of ‘humble governance’, where new forms of governance emerge from collaborations between societal stakeholders on more local levels; those with first hand knowledge and experience and proximity to the issues, not politicians on the higher level.

8. Subject-matter expertise relevant to community and climate resilience. Expertise may be more technically-oriented concerning system design and implementation e.g. urban planning, food systems, manufacturing and logistics systems, and energy systems. Expertise can also take the form of lived experience of place and community and knowing what’s needed in the local, community-centred context.

8 Competencies for Climate Democracy – by background/experience

How to use it

Discuss this list with your team on what competencies are present, and what are needed to help deliver the work.

You can also download a printable PDF version, available below.

Questions, feedback?


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