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Enhancing local authorities' community engagement: Co-designing and prototyping strategies for carbon emission reduction

Improving carbon emission reduction with local authoritiesThe dire predicted impacts of climate change on our environment and societies have prompted some governments to sign up to massive future reductions in carbon emissions.

In Scotland the goal of 80% by 2050 requires Scottish Local Authorities to take extensive action to reduce carbon emissions. Fife Council is perceived to be a leader in addressing carbon emissions and was seeking to expand their impact beyond partner organisations and business in the region. This project was thus developed in partnership between the University of St Andrews, University of Dundee and Fife Council.

Project Aim: To produce a cooperative design of an integrated strategy for local authorities to engage with local communities for reduction of carbon emissions. This strategy will be based on sound academic theory, aligned with local authority structures, informed by external approaches and grounded in a network of existing initiatives and institutions. Interdisciplinary, multi stakeholder workshops and seminars will be held on the topics of Food, Energy use, Transport and Community mobilisation. Placement exchanges, capacity building and close working with Fife Council and other local authorities will develop a practical legacy from the research undertaken. The project will also reflect more broadly on mechanisms by which sustainable development principles can be implemented through this exploration of the cross sectoral, multigoal, participatory working required by government.

An exective summary of the scoping study for the project can be downloaded here: Executive summary:Reducing carbon emissions (Word, 91 KB)

Project team: Rehema White1, Hamid van Koten2, Emilia Ferraro1, Jennifer Franz1, and Justin Kenrick (email:

1 Sustainable Development Programme, School of Geography and Geosciences, University of St Andrews and 2 School of Design, University of Dundee.

Community / Local Authority seminars

We are holding a series of four seminars focusing on how local authorities in general (and Fife Council in particular) can support communities to reduce their carbon emissions. the seminars focus on: Energy, Transport, Food and Community.

1. Energy seminar

Over 50 people attended this seminar on Re-energising Communities in Buckhaven Community Centre on 12 March 2010. The seminar asked: "How can Local Authorities help Communities reduce energy use and shift to renewables?" It included presentations from community initiatives, responses from relevant local authority teams, and open space working group discussions.

Introduction to the seminar
Community presentations
Fife Council presentations
Buckhaven presentation

2. Transport seminar

45 people attended this seminar on Connecting Communities in Markinch on March 25 2010. The seminar asked: “How can Local Authorities help Communities shift to sustainable transport?” It included presentations by North Howe Transition transport initiative, Fife local authority, the national Sustrans network, and a presentation from the sustainable transport capital of Europe: the town of Odense in Denmark.

Introduction to the seminar
Transport presentations

3. Food seminar - 'Nourishing communities'

36 people from Fife Council, and from Fife food networks, initiatives, communities and support organisations, attended our ‘Nourishing Communities’ Food Seminar in Letham Community Hall on 27 April 2010. The day included presentations from an academic perspective, from Fife Council, and from community and support organisations perspectives, as well as offering a chance for informal discussion and networking. The day provided the space to bring together people from very different perspectives to collectively begin (or continue) to develop a sustainable and transformative food system for Fife.

Hamid van Koten, from the University of Dundee, painted the broader global picture before focusing down on the particular ways in which his local initiative – North Howe transition Toun – is working to relocalise food production. From similar, if distinct, perspectives, Mike Small and Ellie Kinross outlined Fife Diet’s work building a local food network and community food resilience in Fife, while Teresa Martinez and Pete Ritchie from One Planet Food examined how the council might contribute to reshaping the existing food system in Fife to build sustainability. Fife Council’s Vivienne Brown outlined the emerging food policy in Fife, and Derek Hamilton explained the role of Fife Council procurement in helping the council, communities and households food choices contribute to a low carbon future.

4. Community seminar - 'Resilient communities revitalising regions'

50 people attended our final seminar on ‘Resilient communities revitalising regions’ at Elmwood College in Cupar on 19 May 2010. People came from communities that have successfully secured Climate Challenge Funding for carbon reduction projects, and from those that haven’t, from support organisations, from Fife Council as well as from Dundee, Midlothian and East Lothian Councils.

Resources packs

Contact: Rehema White,  Email:

Lead Institutions: University of St Andrews, University of Dundee

Project Partners: Fife Council

 University of St Andrews logo  University of Dundee logo  Fife council logo