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These indicators track municipal governance and management on climate and sustainability. Who is making decisions and are they representative of the community? What commitments has the municipality made? Are they backing up those commitments with adequate resources?

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Why this Indicator is Important

Cities can set targets and create plans to achieve climate and sustainability targets—however, these will only be achieved if the city has dedicated a sufficient number of staff with clear roles, training, and adequate resources. Across the municipalities represented in this year’s NCL, we found varying structures when it came to climate, with some cities having a dedicated climate change unit or staff person, while most have a combined climate and sustainability department. In municipal decision-making, climate change is a complex, relatively new, and ever-evolving area. While not captured in this indicator, municipal staff also need access to the latest training and education on municipal climate strategies, as not all may be well-versed on the subject (especially when first hired). Climate change cuts across all municipal departments. More public employees with expertise, knowledge and training in climate change can not only contribute to environmental management programs. They can also support motivation and maturation of climate change perspectives in other city work teams. Cities of course also rely on collaborative initiatives involving private, non-profit, and voluntary actors in achieving climate and sustainability targets. These groups can play an important role, especially when a city has limited resources. However, municipal leadership is still crucial.


Data Availability and Accessibility: 1/3

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We used two strategies to collect this data. First, we consulted city websites and identified the professional roles and responsibilities of the municipality employees–however, this information is generally not available online. To confirm our findings, we also contacted city staff directly. One challenge with this indicator is how to distinguish climate and energy transition work from other environmental and sustainability areas. Where possible, we tried to capture the number of staff specifically dedicated to climate and energy transition specifically, since we were interested in how intensely cities are dedicating staffing hours and resources to that relatively new and urgent area. However, since this work is often housed within a broader sustainability department, with staff having multiple responsibilities, it was sometimes challenging to draw that distinction.

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Note(s): Data are from 2022. Multiple sources are consulted including city websites and city staff.

Winning Municipality

The wi nning city is Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, with ten employees for its approximately 39,000 residents. The number of employees dedicated to studying and analyzing the city’s climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies is likely supported by the city declaring a climate emergency municipality in 2019. The Charlottetown Sustainability Department leads the implementation of the city’s Community Energy Plan as well as the Integrated Community Sustainability Plan, which will soon be combined into a new Climate Action Plan. As well as energy conservation and transition, their focuses include active transportation, public transit, and food security. Staff positions focus on energy, urban forest, and general sustainability management. The department also engages with the community through events such as Bike Week, a Fix It Fair, and a waste-reduction initiative called the Bring It Campaign.1