Learnings from the Green Communities Network

How to: engage diverse communities and deliver inclusive climate action

Climate action brings big benefits to communities – such as better health and wellbeing, and the chance to learn new skills and connect with neighbours. 

It’s vital that these benefits, which include warmer homes and access to nature, reach those facing poverty or social exclusion. 

Trusted, knowledgeable community organisations are well-placed to deliver inclusive climate projects where they are needed most. 

1. Listen up (and stay local) to win trust

  • First, ask the community if your plans are what they really want. Make meaningful changes based on what you hear.
  • When meeting people face to face, make use of buildings and spaces that are accessible to and trusted by local groups – such as community halls or vacant units in shopping centres. 

  • However you’re meeting, be consistent in the place and time you get together.


2. Break down barriers to participation

  • Consider paying for the time of your participants or volunteers – or provide resources such as childcare vouchers and free meals. Learn from the Co-production Collective’s payment policy that sets out why and how communities should be paid for their involvement in projects.

3. Communicate the wider benefits of climate action

  • Climate action brings immediate benefits beyond lowering emissions. Focus on these as you work with communities – understanding which outcomes appeal most to the people you’re working with.
  • Examples include financial savings and better health from making homes energy efficient. Nurturing green spaces also boost mental and physical health. And climate projects often create opportunities to build skills and experience through volunteering. You can listen to Ashden’s Cara Jenkinson on the importance of climate action co-benefits here. 

4. Use the right language

  • Phrases such as ‘climate crisis’ will connect with some people, but leave others cold. Framing your messages around positive outcomes – such as saving money, keeping healthy or protecting nature – may work better. Understand what motivates the people you’re working with, and choose your words accordingly. Read Climate Outreach’s Britain Talks Climate report for a useful guide on engaging different groups around climate change. 


  • Translate materials, and work with interpreters, to make sure people with little or no English can get involved. Ideally, pay bilingual community members to translate for others. 

5. Work with partners to draw on your community's skills and knowledge

  • Where possible, work with other organisations on the funding, planning and delivery of your project. This might include partnering with faith networks – like Footsteps – or your local authority (see this guide on how to do that).  
  • Draw on the skills and knowledge of your community (making sure you compensate people for their time and effort)

6. Three essential tools to help you deliver inclusive climate action

  1. This simple guide to needs assessment surveys will help you find out what your community wants. 
  2. Ashden’s Climate Action Co-benefits toolkit shows how inspiring projects can create these positive outcomes.
  3. Our top tips for securing funding will help make your plans a reality.

More resources for community groups:

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