Community Climate Action Hubs: response analysis

Scottish Government received 70 responses from third sector and community groups in response to the Climate Action Hub programme announced in 2020. Two pathfinder hubs were identified and the information was used to shape the programme.

Question 5:

How should the performance and effectiveness of the regional hubs (including the community climate action within each hub) be assessed?

Respondents to the ‘Request for Information’ identified a series of indicators that would allow the performance and effectiveness of the regional hubs to be assessed, as well as some overarching principles which should guide the development of a monitoring and evaluation framework for the regional hubs and the initiatives supported by them.

1) Overarching principles

Respondents set out some overarching principles which should guide monitoring requirements set out for community climate action supported within each hub’s region.

  • Light touch monitoring requirements

Respondents felt it was important to ease the administrative burden on community climate action to allow organisations to focus on delivery.

“The Covid crisis has shown that community responses can be fast and effective when given resources and freed from bureaucracy. We would like to see similarly rapid approach to the climate emergency as there was to the Covid emergency.”

  • Flexibility

Respondents suggested monitoring requirement should allow for unexpected outcomes to be captured, especially considering the experimental nature of the regional hubs.

“It is important to set targets and monitor performance, but it is also important to collate unplanned results because these can often lead to new ideas and opportunities.”

  • Transparency

It was suggested that digital and local notice boards on the work achieved so far would enable greater transparency and accountability for the hubs, as well as increase the confidence from the general public in the work delivered by the hubs.

  • Participation

It was suggested that community groups should be involved in defining the objectives of the regional hubs as well the metric in which the success of the regional hubs will be measured. This is particularly important if regional hubs take on different objectives and support different local priorities.

“We think it’s important for community groups to be able to play a key role in determining the basis on which the success of a hub will be assessed; and play a key role in the process of assessment itself.”

2) Community engagement and direct support provided

Respondents suggested a number of quantitative indicators to track engagement, participation and progress on the outcomes set out for the hubs, including:

  • number of queries received,
  • number of people reached,
  • number of events held, number of participants,
  • number and size of organisations supported,
  • number of projects initiated and level of funding accessed by supported organisations,
  • number of job created/improved employability.

Equally important to respondents was the perceived quality of the engagement which would be measured through actively collecting feedback both on the information provided online and on the engagement conducted in person.

3) Learning and resources

  • Climate change awareness

Respondents suggested that the hubs should seek to evaluate the impact of training delivered. This could include improved climate change awareness and involvement in climate action as a result of Carbon Literacy Training provided by the Hubs. This would be measured through participant questionnaires.

  • Resources shared

As part of their role to facilitate knowledge exchange between communities, the hubs should monitor the number of resources provided by organisations for sharing and hosted on the Hubs’ websites.

4) Carbon emissions reduction

Carbon emissions reduction monitoring was by far the most controversial theme amongst respondents for this question. Some respondents appeared to be highly in favour carbon emission reduction monitoring being mainstreamed and made accessible to community organisation in order to help monitor progress and highlight the community sector’s contribution to the Scottish Government commitment to make Scotland a Net Zero Nation by 2045.

“The Climate Challenge Fund already has well developed and proven measuring tools for CO2 reduction. The hubs could cascade the tools to the smaller organisations and monitor and evaluate and hold the information to pass back to ScotGov.”

While the majority was in support of widening and enabling the use of carbon monitoring tools, some respondents highlighted the limitation of carbon emissions reduction monitoring in a community setting and warned against making this a requirement.

“We don’t think that it is appropriate to expect community groups to be able to assess carbon savings in any meaningful way. In areas with higher levels of poverty where people may be dealing with more immediate concerns it may be more difficult to achieve as high levels of behavioural change. In order to create an inclusive scheme which isn’t just led by the middle classes, the wider benefits to a community should be considered and not just the carbon saved.”

The consensus amongst respondents would be for the hubs to provide support to community climate action groups in accessing carbon monitoring tools, but to take away as much as possible of the associated complexity and administrative burden. The carbon monitoring tool should be free and made available to organisations that request it. Zero Waste Scotland offered support in developing and encouraging uptake for this tool.

“We recognise that reporting of carbon reduction is difficult, particularly for small community-based organisations. However, we think this is a key performance measure for the hubs.”

5) Wider benefits and indirect support provided

Respondents have also made suggestions that the hubs should aim to capture the wider benefits of the work delivered in their area including:

  • Sustainable behaviour change and uptake of low carbon living advice

“Ultimately the degree to which hubs are able to engender and normalise permanent change to low carbon behaviour in the communities they serve will be central. To enable this, some sort of baseline assessment of each hub area according to some metrics widely seen as indicators of behaviour would be required. This is difficult as it requires access to data which may be difficult to come by, or dis-aggregate from national-level statistics (such as use of public transport; membership of EV car clubs; uptake of low carbon heating etc). A nationally coordinated longitudinal research effort could help with this.”

  • Wider social, economic and health benefits

“The key is to engage people, so a measure of the number of people actively involved is useful. If projects engage people for social, economic and health benefits that have backdoor carbon savings it’s more important that this is recognised and a qualitative report is produced so that we can gain a better understanding of how to engender behaviour change and share that with wider networks. This could be written or visual reporting something that is engaging and interesting for the wider population.”



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