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Climate Action

Our Climate Future: Climate Equity Committee#

Introduction#

The following sections summarize a new committee of community members formed in 2023 to support the equitable implementation of Our Climate Future (OCF). 

The OCF Climate Equity Committee (CEC) will be a resource to help guide projects and programs, as they are being developed or implemented, towards more equitable processes and outcomes. This people-centered approach to increasing community climate leadership is an evolution of a previous committee that advised staff on implementing climate work from 2016-2021.  

The primary focus of the CEC is on equity accountability for climate work with a secondary purpose to develop civic leadership skills within historically marginalized parts of the community as members build skills to inform and influence City processes and systems. While the committee focus will initially be on advising for City-led initiatives, the scope may expand in the future to include community-led projects and programs related to OCF.  

The intended purposes of the committee are: 

  • Collaborate with staff to increase accountability for OCF implementation 
  • Deliver climate equity recommendations for City-led, community-led, and co-led initiatives that advance Our Climate Future 
  • Increase access to and familiarity with local government systems and process 
  • Expand and increase community capacity for leading climate work  
  • Continue and expand OCF partnerships 
  • Build trust and reciprocal relationships between City staff and community members 
  • Explore possibilities for increasing community influence over Our Climate Future implementation  

Background and Recommendations#

The Community Advisory Committee (CAC) for the City’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) advised City Staff on CAP implementation from 2016-2021. After OCF was adopted in 2021 – with a stated commitment to center implementation with equity for all, leading with race – the CAC was asked to transition the group’s focus to supporting the equitable implementation of OCF. Many group members were passionate about equity, but the group itself was not designed to lead with equity at the center. Therefore, the CAC was officially dissolved in August 2021 to make space for a new equity-focused committee.  

An intentional reimagining process in 2022 explored possibilities for increased influence and decision-making abilities of a new advisory committee supporting Our Climate Future. Recommendations from that community-led process may be found in a report on the OCF webpage here and included: 

  • Expand the CAC to function as an equity accountability committee for OCF 
  • Elevate City and community relationships to support reciprocity with mutual aid 
  • Create access points for community members to gain knowledge around City processes  
  • Establish training standards for developing core values related to multicultural relationships 
  • Establish support infrastructure so that members can participate in City processes with minimal interruption 
  • Provide third-party facilitation to manage group goals and objectives Consider innovative ways to engage more interest in future community participation 

The new advisory committee will also have a new name: The OCF Climate Equity Committee will have the opportunity to name itself during the formation process. 

OCF Community Partnerships#

Climate Equity Committee is one of three 2023 OCF Community Partnership Programs that seek to bring the most impacted communities to the center of climate action solutions.  As in many cities in the U.S. and around the world, in and near Fort Collins, there is a history of environmental injustice. The most impacted by climate change are often those with the least decision-making power and influence. The City of Fort Collins is striving to elevate and invest in content and context expertise from historically underrepresented groups for accessible and equitable solutions that foster relationship building and a culture of trust and reciprocity.  

The purpose of OCF Community Partnership work is to further reciprocal relationships with the community and take meaningful steps towards sharing power on climate action by: 

  • Acknowledging and dismantling oppressive systems to ensure that identity is not a predictor of outcomes and that all community members benefit from Our Climate Future 
  • Being effective in limiting and preparing for climate change through increased leadership and action within the community.  
  • Building capacity, skills, and trust between the City and all parts of the community 
  • Improving governance practices by providing access to City leadership and City staff - and leveraging those relationships towards community-driven solutions. 

Climate Equity Action Network Recommendations Report - July 3, 2023#

Summary#

This report describes the 2022 community-led process for reimagining a previous advisory committee supporting the City of Fort Collins’ climate action work into an explicitly equity-focused committee. Recommendations in this report include ways the City and community can work together to address climate mitigation, adaptation, and resilience by emphasizing new approaches to engaging and incorporating the voices of those most impacted by climate change in implementing the necessary solutions. 

This report takes a holistic view of how local governments work and share the responsibility for creating a more just approach to seeking climate solutions. The Our Climate Future Plan intentionally emphasizes people-centered and equity-driven solutions to build a healthy, sustainable Fort Collins for all.  

The intended purposes of the committee are:

  • Collaborate with staff to increase accountability for OCF implementation
  • Deliver climate equity recommendations​ for City-led, community-led, and co-led initiatives that advance Our Climate Future
  • Increase access to and familiarity with local government​ systems and process
  • Expand and increase community capacity for leading climate work​
  • Continue and expand OCF partnerships
  • Build trust and reciprocal relationships
  • Explore possibilities for increasing community influence over Our Climate Future implementation 

Introduction#

As in many cities in the U.S. and around the world, Fort Collins has a history of environmental injustice and political exclusion. Examples include concentrated pollution and environmental hazards in the less affluent northern neighborhoods of Fort Collins in the early 1900s. Sugar factories and the nearby dump burned material that likely caused poor air quality and affected soil and water quality. Today’s data show that these same neighborhoods continue to see disproportionate outcomes compared to other parts of Fort Collins and a larger proportion of residents identify as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC) 

The authors of this report recognize that the members of our community most impacted by climate change are often those with the least decision-making power and political influence. Lasting and transformational change requires that local governments incorporate more relevant voices for influence over the implementation of equitable climate solutions. As countries, states, and cities are working to find solutions for halting further climate disruption (and adapting to what is already happening), they tend to focus on technical solutions. We believe there is room for improvement. While technical solutions have an important role to play, community-based approaches offer tangible benefits to those most impacted by climate change. 

Background#

The Community Advisory Committee (CAC) for the City’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) advised City Staff on CAP implementation from 2016-2021. After Our Climate Future (OCF) was adopted in 2021 – with a stated commitment to center implementation on equity for all, leading with race – the CAC was asked to transition the group’s focus to supporting the equitable implementation of OCF. Big Move 1 (Shared Leadership and Community Partnership) has been the driver for the reimagining of the CAC. Many former committee members were passionate about equity, but the group itself was not designed to lead with equity at the center. Therefore, the CAC was officially dissolved in August 2021 to make space for a new equity-focused committee.  

As part of the reimagining process, a competitive process was used to contract with a local nonprofit, Queens Legacy Foundation (QLF). City staff worked with QLF to recruit project team members from the community who worked to develop recommendations for City staff to use in the development of the new committee, intended to guide future OCF implementation. 

The team was structured to build on relationships of reciprocity with historically underrepresented communities and the City, with the goal of ensuring OCF implementation is accountable to equity goals and that the new committee integrates well with the OCF governance structure. 

QLF and staff facilitated meetings in Q2 and Q3 of 2022. The team decided to refer to itself as the Climate Equity Action Network – C.L.E.A.N. 

Special Thanks to C.L.E.A.N. team members 

  • Queen Dedria Johnson 
  • Dr. Valerie Small 
  • Leah Hager 
  • Mary Maldonado 
  • Rena Trujillo 
  • Justin Roske 
  • Bruno Sobral 
  • Rickey Frierson 

Recommendations#

This report contains ways for the community and City to work together to offer more points of access for residents that are not typically at the decision-making table. The recommendations were developed by a community project team, as described in the Background section of this report.  

The recommendations focus on strategies to help OCF implementation use a more inclusive governance process based on OCF Big Move 1: Shared Leadership & Community Partnership and Next Move 1.3: Reimagine the Community Advisory Committee. Once the new advisory committee is formed, members should review the recommendations and decide what iterative changes may need to be made.  

The primary focus of the CEC is on equity accountability with a secondary purpose of developing civic leadership skills within historically marginalized parts of the community as members learn how to influence City processes and systems. This Climate Equity Committee will explore possibilities for increasing community influence over Our Climate Future implementation processes. 

Recommendations from this community-led process included: 

  • Expand the CAC to function as an equity accountability committee for OCF 
  • Elevate City and community relationships to support reciprocity with mutual aid 
  • Create access points for community members to gain knowledge about City processes  
  • Establish training standards for developing core values related to multicultural relationships 
  • Establish support infrastructure so that members can participate in City processes with minimal interruption 
  • Provide third-party facilitation to manage group goals and objectives  
  • Consider innovative ways to engage more interest in future community participation 

1. Reciprocity: How the future committee can add value to the individuals participating and the community, in addition to supporting the City's goals?#

2. Selection Process: How future committee members should be selected, who should be part of selection, and what team strengths and skills should be prioritized.#

3. Training and Bias Awareness Tools: Equity training and support should be provided to the committee after they have been selected.#

4. Accommodations and Support: What the City can do to remove barriers to participation so that anyone could be on the future committee.#

5. Decision-making Role: What role the future committee should play in Our Climate Future implementation. What decision-making capabilities/influence it could hold under the City’s current charter.#

6. Meeting Structure & Facilitation: How the committee meetings should be run. What its structure should be. Who should facilitate the meetings.#

7. Engagement Role of Committee Members: Expectations for how the future committee engages the broader community. What expectations should be made clear up front.#

Conclusion and Next Steps#

This process framework and the accompanying recommendations from community members will be a catalyst for a new people-centered design approach for future climate implementation processes and climate solutions. The work done by the C.L.E.A.N. team to lay the foundation for what an equitable and accessible governance structure could and should look like will allow staff to support a reimagined, equity-focused advisory committee for Our Climate Future. The new committee can be a resource to help guide projects and programs, as they are being developed or implemented, towards more equitable processes and outcomes with an integrated focus on accountability and reciprocal relationships. At the same time, it will provide access to networks that will help develop civic leadership skills within historically marginalized parts of the community as members learn how to influence City processes and systems.