Daniel Tuitt
Author - Daniel Tuitt

Targeting minoritised groups to enable climate action within their communities

01 The Challenge


Climate action has considerably slowed down in recent years, owing to the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the cost of living crisis. Although several climate action plans have been developed at global and national levels, one key aspect is often neglected – increasing community resilience to climate change. In addition, most solutions provided do not address the interconnection between climate justice, social justice, and the reduction of CO2 emissions.

Current systems do not display an understanding of the intersectionality of pro-sustainable behaviours within communities of colour with the mental healthcare system for these communities. The current economy is degenerative and divisive. As a result, it does not enable the development of long-term solutions that get to the root of environmental, ecological, and socio-economic issues in local communities. This calls for more progressive climate action that engages marginalised and minoritised groups at a community level that apply a service design-led approach.

We need big systemic shifts towards just transitions to enable local communities and the planet to thrive by having a holistic view of all the problems impacting the stakeholders. The need for indigenous wisdom from marginalised and racialised communities has been compounded over the years. Therefore, we need these communities on this journey.

Through this programme, Power to Change (PTC) aims to reach a diverse range of communities, particularly those who have been under-represented in previous programmes. These include Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities, organisations in areas with a lower Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD), and poor communities that are most likely to be adversely impacted by the climate and nature crisis.

Local unrepresented groups need more than just financial support. A lot of their issues are systemic and intersectional. Moreover, they are predominantly rooted in these communities historically feeling powerless and in generations of mistrust in organisations who have designed services for them.


02 The Approach


Climate Labs had experience working with networks led by black and brown community businesses, entrepreneurs, and BAME-centric creative and cultural organisations, provided a bias towards marginalised communities as a key component to the scope.

Here, we applied systems thinking. We explored the global United Nations Sustainable Development Group (UNSDG) goals and three horizons framework in hopes of reaching regenerative states that empowers unrepresented communities to fight climate change . Using these lenses and framing tools allowed us to view the challenges and goals from micro- to macro-contexts.


Immersive research

We held a series of workshops with key stakeholders to map out the core existing system. This research process included interviews with key participants, desired audiences, and communities to update the map. We also explored leverage points for innovation and interventions.

Our team used modified versions of the Design Council’s Double Diamond and Google Ventures Design Sprint. Working with stakeholders within Power to Change, community businesses, and delivery partners resulted in two co-creation workshops, with over 143 ideas generated by all participants. From these ideas, three solutions were designed to improve the current programme.

This process involved 16 members of the community, including PTC staff, community business owners, infrastructure organisations and funders. Resulting in 36 long-term goals being defined for best-case scenarios in the next 2 years of the programme. The team further identified opportunities to improve the existing programme journey.

The design phase involved co-designing through a participatory approach with grassroot organisations, exploring the varying themes – People, Place, and Planet. Here, our team designed two workshops to take participants through a Design Sprint for new service interventions. We also used the opportunity to understand and map how communities access the existing PTC services.

Our approaches resulted in the identification of 47 different opportunities for intervention and the design of two service maps that break down the current and future programmes with PTC. Based on the previously conducted research, we distilled the content into themes, opportunity areas, challenges, insights, needs in response to the challenge, and new queries.


The first workshop

The first workshop focused on collectively defining and discovering new possibilities for the programme. The different activities for this workshop were designed to understand actions needed in the programme and uncover the shape and format of the funding. The latter aim revealed how the process for accessing the programme might respond to the context of racialised communities. It also provided the mechanisms required to ensure the active role of CBs in this transition.

The second workshop

  • With this workshop, we aimed to develop new and radical ideas to tackle some promising aspects raised for the design of the programme. Each team worked through one of the key aspects of the project, framed with a question. The following questions were considered an opportunity to tackle the programme radically:
  • Concept 1 (Discovering the programme) - How might we create a hybrid campaign using both digital and physical resources to have more reach to marginalised communities?
  • Concept 2 (Learning about the programme - How might we create a clear plan for applications that aren't successful?
  • Concept 3 (Using the programme) - How might we define a flexible set of final deliverables that respond to the project's learning process and support its future visions?

Based on these three questions, an equal number of ideas were developed and prototyped. To reduce bias, we tested assumptions to validate key elements of each idea. This validation supported PTC in its vision of future programmes.


03 The Outcome


From the two workshops we held, the teams developed and tested three ideas with potential users of future Power to Change programmes.

  • Idea 1: Building trust and onboarding. This involves ongoing connection through physical interaction, described as ‘The Hub’.
  • Idea 2: Creating a clear plan for applications that aren’t successful through a ‘BootCamp’ model for applications that have potential but need help.
  • Idea 3: A platform that can support individuals and community businesses to feel confident and create transparency when going through the PTC programme.

Climate Labs tested all three ideas at a high level as one continuous journey throughout the programme. Interviewing participants provided an understanding of the needs and past experiences of underrepresented communities, as well as factors impacting their climate action and local communities.

Throughout the design process, the different inputs provided a better understanding of the complexity of the agendas and how the people involved experience them. This led us to the following conclusions:

1. Time and space are needed

Working on projects focused on climate action is the result of a community process that requires deep involvement and continuous learning. Therefore, having the space and the time to develop ideas is crucial, resulting in the increased importance of funding these processes. Even when there are projects underway, there are often difficulties when trying to frame local initiatives within the parameters of any given program.

2. Building capacity is linked to building trust

A key aspect within the report was the need to build capacity within communities, seeking to modify the passive and traditional role that an applicant to the program might take. Although capacity building within communities is essential to generate autonomy in their transformation processes related to climate action, trust between the participants and the organisation is essential to generate community-led transformations.

3. Minoritised communities are diverse and complex

Understanding the complexity that surrounds minoritised groups requires an intersectional approach. This allows us to identify the different aspects related to each group. We also identified people with varying disabilities within this category. This transforms and broadens the design and parameters of the program to make it highly accessible.

4. Sharing good news and case studies of exemplary projects

Sharing case studies help drive impact. This allows communities to learn from each other. Storytelling can be an active role for the ambassadors of exemplary projects. This is part of the 4 characteristics of the Design Council’s Systemic Design Framework. However, it will require planning and funding.

5. The need to continue prototyping

Co-designing with key community participants can be a quick and lean process to learn and build propositions. Therefore, this method is key to informing new mechanisms for programmes.


Although this programme is mainly in the inception stage, having begun towards the end of 2022, the goal is to see the implementation of a more regenerative system within PTC. The programme encompasses three main aspects – purpose, eligibility criteria, and the process for receiving support. These aspects cover the actions needed, funding format, profiles of community businesses, and how funding takes shape.

The Service Blueprint entails information on how components of the programme work to benefit communities businesses. The components we considered include what participants use the funding for and how. The Service Blueprint covers the process of receiving support from the launch to the end of the programme.


The As-is Service Map

The current service map for programmes within PTC breaks down key steps that involve funders, Power to change, and the community leaders applying for grant funding. In this project, we drafted a map of the desired future programme to support underrepresented community leaders.

The to-be future Service Map

The information captured for the to-be future service map came from the outputs of the two co-design sprints, stakeholder interviews, Powering Up insights, user testing interviews, and other Power to Change documents. Due to the nature of this project, the physical impact of the Climate Action Programme can only be measured months or even years after it has been implemented.

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