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When community influence and smart climate choices go hand in hand 


Compliance with environmental policies, laws and regulations may sound hard to achieve, but if you start off with the dreams of a local community, you may very well end up with the smartest climate choice. Elena Adamo reports from Danida Fellowship Centre’s new learning programme Environmental Governance at Local Level.

It is Wednesday 14 September, and Danida Fellowship Centre’s learning programme “Environmental Governance at Local Level” has just kicked off at Karens Minde, a community cultural centre at the active heart of Copenhagen’s South Harbour’s (Sydhavnen) green area. The twenty-three participants come from all over the world – from Argentina, India, Indonesia, Ghana, Egypt, Kenya and South Africa – and they all work with environmental governance and other environmental regulatory duties. Anders Branth Pedersen, Senior Researcher at Aarhus University and Øystein Leonardsen, Advisor in Copenhagen Municipality, are facilitating the session.

In the process of city planning we are exploring a neighbourhood, but we are not looking for problems, we are looking for dreams, says Øystein Leonardsen, illustrating the Copenhagen Municipality’s approach to creating dialogue between the municipality and the community.

The technical term for this approach is “Asset Based Community Development (ABCD)”, and it aims at sustainable community-driven development. An example of how it works in practice is the very building where the participants are now gathered. Karen’s Minde Cultural Centre was originally a mental asylum. The last residents were sent to other institutions and homes in 1987 and active local residents fought to preserve the building and use it as a cultural centre. They succeeded. Instead of the building being torn down, Karen’s Minde was renovated.

The renovation of Karen’s Minde is not only a great example of how the community influenced local governance, it was also the smartest climate choice, Øyestein Leornardsen says, using the story as an entry point to talk about local governance and responsible, sensible climate choices.

Photo: Elena Adamo

Listening to a community’s dreams is a recommendable approach when it comes to governance and climate change, according to Øyestein Leornardsen. It serves the purpose of linking the community and the decision makers in a shared process of local governance so that climate change is addressed from a common local perspective.

It is inspiring to understand how local governance works for Denmark. Even if the contexts are different, some of these ideas and examples may also work in New Delhi,” says one of the course participants, Lovlesh Sharma, a water and infrastructure expert at the National Institute of Urban Affairs, India.

To further illustrate how community influence and smart climate choices go hand in hand, the participants in this learning programme will be out and about to look at and discuss different climate adaptation sites and initiatives in Copenhagen and Aarhus and learn how climate friendly implementation works in practice. In Aarhus, the programme will focus on specific Danish and EU environmental policies and their implementation, as well as on cases from partner countries.

About the learning programme 

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