International Climate Engagement Network (ICEN)

Photo 1: Gambia: citizens debating. World Wide Views on Climate and Energy (June 6, 2015). Credit: WWViews Partners. | Photo 2: Community-based disaster preparedness meeting. Active role of local NGOs. Semarang, Indonesia. Credit: © Kota Kita Foundation | Photo 3: Citizens Dialogues on Canada’s Energy Future. Credit: Zack Embree. | Photo 4: Footbridge and green urban circulations funded through PB, Metz, France. Credit: © Metz Municipality.

Accelerating Climate Action Through Authentic Engagement

Short-term pressures, difficult policy trade-offs, partisan U-turns and polarization have delayed climate action in many countries around the world. A more participatory relationship between governments and the communities they serve can accelerate the shift to net-zero emissions.

The International Climate Engagement Network (ICEN) is a connection point for practitioners and organizations around the world who are advancing climate action. ICEN promotes global innovation in climate engagement. Through capacity building, demonstration projects and strategic advice, we help governments and practitioners accelerate climate action, centre under-heard voices and co-create movements for transformative change.

Five Types of Climate Engagement

Innovations in climate engagement are currently taking place around the world, building on decades of learning and experience to generate public input that is representative, informed and actionable. These public participation processes engage residents, citizens, under-represented communities and stakeholders in shaping actions and decisions to address climate change. Our analysis shows five categories of climate engagement that are important for governments to consider when developing their engagement strategies:

Citizen deliberation to work through trade-offs and find hidden consensus using representative mini-publics, as demonstrated through recent climate assemblies in DenmarkFranceScotlandUnited Kingdom and Gdańsk, as well as through the Citizen Dialogues on Canada’s Energy Future.

More about citizens’ assemblies on climate

Relationship-based engagement to advance shared goals and climate justice in partnership with affected communities, as seen in Cycles of Resilience, the work of Kota Kita and Women’s Climate Centers International.

More about centering equity in climate engagement

Place-based engagement to increase relevance to participants’ daily lives and unlock the agency, networks and capacity of local groups, as demonstrated by green participatory budgeting projects in more than 15 cities worldwide, CityStudio, and the Polder Model.

Large-scale engagement to crowdsource ideas and co-create narratives across wider populations, as seen in the New Orleans Unified Plan and The Big Climate Conversation.

Systems-oriented engagement to increase opportunities for learning and impact using iterative approaches and multiple engagement channels, as seen in the Healthy, Clean Cities Deep Demonstrations program and The Global Climate Assembly.


Issues Limiting the Impact of Climate Engagement

The present marks a moment of heightened interest in climate engagement methods, yet there are still some challenges. Key issues limiting the impact of climate engagement processes include:

  • Public participation processes frequently fail to achieve significant impact on government decisionmaking, both because they lack power relative to other sources of influence, and because governments and practitioners fail to set up adequate structures for follow-through.
  • The voices of marginalized and equity-seeking communities are often underheard, not only in government decision-making but also within many climate engagement processes.
  • One-off engagement processes are increasingly insufficient to sustain a multi-decade transition, with a need to move towards more iterative and systems-based approaches that unlock capacity, promote learning and repair public trust.

What's Next?

ICEN will work to increase the ambition and quality of climate engagement carried out by national, regional and local governments in ways that are catalytic, relationship-based and transformative. Programming focus areas will include:

  • Capacity building with national, sub-national and municipal governments
  • Demonstration projects that spread good practices by example
  • Executive briefings on the business case for climate engagement
  • Exchanging innovations and showcasing international success stories

Organizations interested in sharing climate engagement case studies or tools, participating in events or co-creating new programming in partnership with the International Climate Engagement Network are invited to contact:


Dialogue Dispatch


Dialogue Dispatch is our community of practice newsletter where we share updates on our team's knowledge exchange activities alongside inspiring case studies, suggested readings and practical tools for people and organizations working to transform the field of democratic participation.

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