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An alternative view of Alberta: Edmonton, energy, climate change and citizen deliberation
Friday, September 30th, 2011

The brouhaha against the Keystone XL pipeline once again shines a harsh light on Alberta and its oil sands industry. And the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy’s latest report on the costs of climate change to Canada sharpens the debate.

What flies under the radar in the rest of Canada is the fact that Edmonton City Council recently passed a comprehensive and far reaching environmental strategy called The Way We Green (TWWG). Its goals and policy directions, including on climate change and energy, are nothing if not forward looking and very ambitious.

The Alberta Climate Dialogue project (ABCD) is a five-year university-community initiative (2010-2015) exploring how new forms of citizen participation in policymaking can enhance Alberta responses to climate change (I serve on ABCD’s Steering Committee). ABCD and the Centre for Public Involvement  (CPI) are exploring a partnership with the City of Edmonton to co-create a public participation campaign that seeks to advance climate change policy and action in Alberta.  This partnership would also advance knowledge, capacity, and practices of citizen dialogue and deliberation in Alberta and beyond.

On September 23, ABCD/CPI hosted a workshop for the City of Edmonton leaders, community stakeholders who were involved in the creation of TWWG, and ABCD’s leading researchers and public participation practitioners (as both presenters and participants). I had the pleasure of facilitating this event which set out to better understand how citizen deliberation can support the City’s responses to energy transition and climate change; leverage expertise to inform the City’s public engagement efforts; and help align key energy and climate change objectives on a public engagement spectrum. Judging from the buzz at tables and the thoughtful contributions about how serious citizen engagement could really help the City administration and Council to implement TWWG, the workshop was a success.

Following on the heels of this workshop, ABCD convened its annual planning session – this year participants contributed their research and practice expertise to support the Edmonton initiative, including design and learning dimensions. Graphic recorder Avril Orloff captured a snapshot of key elements of ABCD’s work and aspirations in the drawing included here (click on the image on this screen and the next to view it in detail).

Stay tuned for the next chapter in the City of Edmonton / ABCD / CPI partnership story – citizens and the City implementing wise choices for environmental sustainability.

-Mary Pat Mackinnon-

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  1. Stephan says:

    ABCD forces those of us outside Alberta to re-think how Albertans are addressing
    the issue of climate change and energy. Thanks for sharing

  2. Tristan Eclarin says:

    In terms of process, I like how this demonstrates the use of graphic
    facilitation. I first learned about this in a course I took a couple of summers
    ago. When used in appropriate situations, graphic facilitation can provide a
    really valuable “take-away” for participants, as it helps describe the flow of
    a complex engagement process in a visually appealing manner.