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Photo by Ricardo Viana on Unsplash

Co-authored by Alice Evans and Michelle Zucker

Have you ever found yourself thinking… why didn’t those people just talk with those other people? Have you found yourself knowing that if they had spoken with each other, the eventual outcome would have been much, much better? It’s so simple when you’re on the outside looking in, but when you’re in it, it can seem insurmountable.

We see examples of this at every single scale. Sometimes it’s two friends or family members that feel like they have an unbridgeable chasm between them following an argument. Because we have both perspectives, we know they believe similar things, which, if only they would meet in the middle, they would see.

Other times it’s in our workplaces — why on earth didn’t the project team connect with the IT or legal department before starting… they could have saved time, money and created something much better.

We see it in our governments, where somehow each department works in its own silo and we end up with policies built by a health department with no connection to the social services department and most certainly no connection to the people that are most impacted. Or if we zoom out to the global scale, we know agreement on global actions is extremely important — think Paris Agreement, Sustainable Development Goals, or International Convention for Human Rights. But standing up the difficult processes, methods, and infrastructure required to have these implemented is… well, frankly, yet to be seen. …

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Photo by Ave Calvar on Unsplash

When it comes to the Climate Crisis, we are rapidly approaching a tipping point. Not just ecologically, but socially and culturally. The world is taking notice. School children are on the streets marching for their future(s); companies are continuing to pay salaries to employees arrested during non-violent protests; countries are contemplating the end of their geographic existence. Over 7 million people joined the global strike for climate action.

Despite all of this, there is a recurring question: what exactly can I do?

There are millions who care, but don’t know how to help. Many others simply don’t have the ability to act due to inequality, misinformation, poverty and much more. There is a sense of disempowerment, a belief that one individual’s actions alone are too small to change the course of history. Especially when it comes to changing the climate; an issue we must solve together on a planetary scale. …

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So we brought together a group of experts on citizens engagement and participation from across Europe. People who don’t just talk about engagement, or think that traditional forms of “stakeholder engagement” will be sufficient in the face of deeply complex and often long standing issues. Rather people who actually do citizens engagement, on the ground, all day everyday. People from councils, municipalities, artists, activists, and even Deputy Mayors.

Why do this? I work at an organisation called EIT Climate-KIC ( and we want to drive systemic innovation for climate action. Whilst climate change is often discussed in a highly intellectual way or from a strongly technological perspective, we know that deep at the heart of this challenge, are people.

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I didn’t make the title up. It is the main message I heard from you and our Community as I traveled around Europe interviewing and working with you to design, facilitate and draw insight from our Partner Days. You told me you wanted to do more, experiment more and, most simply, find ways to best use the expertise and experience of our Partners. You were also adamant about making sure we provide our Community value. But you weren’t really sure how.

To be honest, as a brand new person to Climate-KIC in a brand new function — I wasn’t sure how to do this either! Spending time in the geographies or themes, on Skype or wherever else we met, was a privilege and helped me to understand the community and to explore the question around creating value. My first three months were an integral part of Community Management’s “Exploration Phase” — which was essentially a process to gather as much information and collective intelligence as possible. I thank you for making this possible by welcoming me into your teams and community — your time, insight and willingness to share was invaluable. …


Michelle Zucker

Driven by design, innovation, bringing people together, trying to solve things.

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