Using volunteers to action climate change initiatives and influence community behavioural change is a proposal put forward by one of this year’s Management Challenge teams – the ‘Taiao Angels’ of Bay of Plenty Regional Council. The proposal is an excellent example of engaging with local community for a common cause – in this case improving the environment by reducing emissions.

The proposal would see volunteers partner with local businesses and organisations to calculate their carbon footprint, understand their environmental impact and provide recommendations to help reduce carbon emissions.

Caring for our environment and connecting communities are important generators of well-being, and part of the purpose of local government. The Action on Carbon Emissions (ACE) project put forward by Taiao Angels would enable the local community to connect with each other, working with local businesses to improve the environment, which helps to promote community well-being.   

Councils have a responsibility under the Resource Management Act (RMA) to protect the natural and physical resources of a region and this was the Taiao Angel team’s motivation.

“We chose Carbon Accounting as a measure of environmental impact, said Taiao Angels team member Rebecca Immink.

“This measure aligns with our climate change and sustainability priorities, contributing to behavioural change which is a significant barrier to success to date,”

The initiative would benefit BOPRC (in terms of our community outcomes), businesses as a free service to be more sustainable (which also has potential economic benefits) and the volunteer group, providing work experience for students. It would also be rewarding as it would provide an opportunity to make a positive contribution.

This year’s Management Challenge teams were required to develop and evaluate ideas for new or improved service delivery through an innovative use of volunteering. After coming up with a suitable idea, each team was then required to consult with their council’s senior leadership team and with their community on the proposal.

“This isn’t a project that has been adopted by BOPRC yet as we would likely use volunteer schemes to respond to shovel ready projects that have received Government Funding. However, we still believe this is a great initiative that would benefit the community in the future”

We wish them all the best!