Community Engagement in City Climate Planning: A Case Study of the New Haven Climate and Sustainability Framework

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Robert Dubrow
Essay Abstract: 
As cities are increasingly facing the effects of climate change, many are developing climate action plans. The city of New Haven, Connecticut is currently developing a Climate and Sustainability Framework (NHCSF). A steering committee and working groups comprised of community stakeholders and city officials led the initial development efforts. Following this process, the draft NHCSF was put online for public comment and three public meetings were held to elicit community feedback. This essay examines how incorporating community input contributes to developing city climate plans. Working group members were interviewed about the NHCSF development process, residents of New Haven were surveyed about proposed actions within the NHCSF, and community feedback at public meetings was observed. Most survey respondents supported the proposed actions in the survey, and the actions were largely deemed realistic and impactful. Concerns that arose from the survey comments and the public meetings were explicitly linking health and economic co-benefits to proposed actions, and working to improve equity and representation in the NHCSF’s development and implementation. It is recommended that the City of New Haven actively work to engage low-income and minority communities in the implementation of the NHCSF and make clear the co-benefits of the proposed actions.