BA Climate Change was a participatory process that set out to design an innovative and responsive climate change platform for government, academia, civil society organisations and neighbours to collaborate on climate action.
Meetings were held with more than 30 areas of government:
- 15 interviews with experts
- 8 ideation roundtables with more than 600 neighbours
- 1 ideathon with more than 15 participants
- meetings with 38 members of 20 civil society member organisations,
- a hackathon with interested neighbours and an instance of collaborative data collection on air quality.
In these spaces, participants were consulted on which information they needed to know about climate change in the city and the formats. Their contributions allowed the design of a site that combines openness of public environmental information, accountability of government actions and civic activation.
Once the site was developed, several validation meetings were held with the different actors in order to verify the fulfilment of the requirements previously requested and the consequent usefulness of the platform; essential for decision-making both within the Government of the City of Buenos Aires and outside.
The process was carried out in coordination with actors that already accompany the City of Buenos Aires in the generation of environmental public policies:
- Government areas, through collaborative work tables and validation meetings.
- Experts, some of them members of the Advisory Council of the City of Buenos Aires, who advise the Environmental Protection Agency in the elaboration of climate action plans.
- Civil Society Organisations made up of young people, members of the Advisory Council for the Environment and Sustainable Development that accompany the Secretariat of the Environment of the City in the co-design of public policies.
- Neighbours convened by the General Directorate of Citizen Participation and Proximity, the area that leads the City's participation experiences.
- UNDP, Cambridge University and the National Government, with whom a cooperation agreement has been drawn up for the implementation of a participatory air quality monitoring experiment.
All these actors have provided essential information for the development of a useful platform for decision-making within the government and useful for all of them, the users of all this content.
Multiple meetings have been held with the private sector, academia and civil society organisations to assess the quality of the information provided and requested by them.
The response from the various actors was extremely positive. Organisations such as Facebook, Cabify, FARN, Seamos Bosques, Change.org, the University of Buenos Aires, the Catholic University of Argentina, the Argentine Business University and others expressed their approval of the contents finally included and proposed further collaboration and co-creation of environmental public policies. In the case of the private sector, the benefit of the platform for the realisation of their own emission reduction plans was highlighted.
At the same time, the platform has been presented to decision-makers of the Government of the City of Buenos Aires, corroborating that the content is useful for the elaboration of environmental public policies and accountability by areas such as the Cabinet of Ministers, the Secretariat of Environment, the Secretariat of Transport and Public Works, the Ministry of Public Space and Urban Hygiene, among others. On the other hand, in more technical terms, the use and usefulness of the platform was evaluated through the number of unique visits to the site and the number of downloads of open environmental datasets made visible through the platform.
In the formulation and design of BA Climate Change, they sought to create a platform that would combine the opening of public environmental information, accountability of government actions and civic activation in order to:
- Collaborate with the democratisation of information regarding climate change and accountability of government actions to reduce carbon emissions, allowing to strengthen citizen monitoring.
- Through concrete actions to engage neighbours in the process of cultural change to mitigate the risks of climate change. With their commitment to the cause, it is expected that they will manage a transformation in their individual habits and thus, be able to collaboratively build a more sustainable City of Buenos Aires from now on.
Based on this and on the participatory background in the field of climate change, it was decided to design the BA Climate Change platform through co-creation and consensus-building processes with strategic actors involved or interested in the subject.
- Interviews with expert. In-depth interviews were conducted with 15 activists, government and CSO representatives, seeking to gather the diversity of voices on a homogeneous scheme of questions and answers.
- Ideathon on Citizen Participation and Climate Change. The Federal Ideation Innovative Cities in Times of COVID-19 consisted of a meeting on the Zoom platform where neighbours, specialists and CSOs participated.
- The four-stage co-creation workshop involved citizens, the Advisory Council on Environment and Sustainable Development and thirteen of its member CSOs. For this reason, the activity was aimed at an audience specialised in the agenda and had the objective of gathering initiatives for adaptation and mitigation against climate change, and incentives to provide to citizens.
- Ideation tables for citizen activation initiatives. Based on the workshop described in the previous section, two workshops were held with residents of the city to increase the co-creation process and incorporate new voices.
- Hackathon for Collective Climate Action: participation tables for the co-design of digital products. After the ideation and collective intelligence roundtables, working tables were held to obtain mock-ups of digital products that could be implemented on the BA Climate Change platform to enhance civic activation.
- Collaborative data collection on air quality in the City. Eight volunteers placed sensors on their bicycles to obtain relevant information during the course of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The platform combines open environmental information and civic activation. In a single site, it provides more than 30 open datasets that can be downloaded and used to generate new studies and undertakings, interactive visualisations and proposals for participation, collaboration and cooperation to achieve together a resilient, carbon neutral and inclusive city.
Through the co-creation process, an innovative and useful tool was obtained for decision making by government, neighbours, academia, civil society organisations and the private sector.
It included information on:
- Energy consumption, energy sources, energy efficiency and distributed generation.
- Greenhouse gas inventory
- Air quality
- Tree planting
- Sustainable mobility
- Meteorological data
- Climate change adaptation and mitigation plan and emission reduction targets.
- Citizen participation initiatives and proposals.
This information was valued both by internal users, who needed a single site that reflected the comprehensiveness of the climate change strategy for better decision-making, and by external users. Through meetings, the different actors have expressed interest in using sections such as "Inventory GEI" and "Present and Future Climate" in their courses, and companies such as Cabify and Facebook have made themselves available to generate collaborative actions that allow us to achieve the goals proposed in the CAP 2050. The site has also been recognised by the Environmental Economic Observatory of the University of Buenos Aires.
The creation of the BA Climate Change platform had several innovative aspects.
- It was the first participatory process in the City of Buenos Aires that involved so many areas of government with a single objective. It is a platform that brings together aspects of more than 30 different areas unifying all the content in a one stop shop. Thanks to the participation and collaboration of all these areas, we managed to obtain a complete and unique open government and climate change tool in the world.
- Secondly, of course, the process was innovative in that it was developed entirely virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Collaborative work platforms such as Zoom and Miro had to be used, replacing face-to-face activities and still managing to keep the attention of all participants in a difficult context.
- Finally, the co-creation of BA Climate Change was innovative in that it included a collaborative process for data collection. For example, on air quality. Eight volunteers placed sensors on their bicycles, built by students from the University of Buenos Aires and the University of San Martin in workshops organised by the National Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development and UNDP, thus obtaining relevant information in the course of the Covid-19 pandemic. All this information was then uploaded to the City's open data portal and the BA Climate Change portal.
The co-creation process was designed through the PMBOK project management methodology: a methodology that allows the development of activities, an estimated budget, but also a list of possible risks and options for their prevention/mitigation. In this way, it was easy to adapt to the budget cuts implied by the COVID-19 pandemic, as an option A and B was considered both for the development of the participatory process and for the design and development of the BA Climate Change platform. The experience can equally well be replicated with minimal resources.
Of course, isolation by COVID-19 could not be foreseen. However, proper planning has allowed us to have time to evaluate alternatives to face-to-face meetings, thus achieving the same or even better results, since virtuality allowed us to reach more people, who for various reasons would not have been able to approach us.
Furthermore, the creation of the BA Climate Change platform is fully replicable in other contexts. In fact, the creators are working with cities such as Mendoza and Olavarría to replicate it. The cities could draw up a list of experts and stakeholders interested in the issue, replicate the questionnaires and instances of participation and develop a similar site that, to a large extent, has been developed in open source.
The experience of collaborative data collection could even be replicated, in collaboration with UNDP, which provided the sensors used.
The stages of the project
- The design of the platform first involved an exploratory stage. At this stage, the role of the experts was fundamental since, through questions, they allowed us to more easily address the strategic axes of climate action. Their technical knowledge made it possible to include information and open data on key issues for actors specialising in climate change.
- Secondly, the co-creation stage was carried out with neighbours and civil society organisations. Through sectoral working groups, participants collaborated to include within the site all the necessary information for less specialised actors, who were also interested in climate action and in doing their part.
- Finally, UNDP, Cambridge University and the National Government provided us, through an agreement, with the sensors and tools necessary to carry out a participatory air quality monitoring experiment, information required by the interviewees and of great value for decision-making in the city.
Heads of more than 30 government areas provided feedback on the needs of the team, and relevant information for the design of a single platform reflecting the City's comprehensive climate change strategy.
Sources (in spanish):
BA Climate Change Platform