Presented at the Open Social Summit 2023 by Frederic Williquet who works with the European Commission, the Education for Climate initiative serves as an inspiring case-study for community building with a purpose. The initiative started with a request to create an interactive platform focusing on raising awareness on climate education, by training teachers, and bridging the gap between science and education.
The Education for Climate community is part of the European Communities Platform (ECP), a collaboration between Open Social and the European Commission. Without a pre-existing community or a comprehensive list of all schools in Europe, the initiative embarked on an exploratory journey. The initial eight months were invested in speaking with 800 people from across the European states and from different layers of education.
A collaborative design journey
Then followed a design phase, inspired by the Community Playbook. This involved synthesizing what was learned from the interactions, prioritising problems to solve, identifying interests, and sharing best practices. The process was collaborative and co-creative, involving mixing different stakeholders like teachers, students, and management.
Iterative design and growth: Evolving the Education for Climate community
However, Initial challenges arose with their original platform design. The team had to learn the hard way that complexity doesn’t always resonate with the community or support the seamless user flow. After collecting feedback from the growing community of students and teachers, they realized that they had to simplify it. The menu, which initially was too complex and vague, was reworked to be more user-friendly. This transformation reinforced the idea that building a community is a continuous process of learning, adapting, and evolving.
16 months after their launch, the Education for Climate community can proudly say that they have around 6,500 members. Events, meetings, onboarding sessions, content sessions, workshops, etc., have brought about 1,000 active members onto the platform. Despite its current success, the team sees this as just the beginning. They now started a sub-community for the Green Comp Framework, which focuses on 12 competencies for sustainability and climate challenge.
In conclusion, the journey of the Education for Climate community offers valuable insights into the practice of community building. It underscores the importance of being both social and technical, as well as the necessity of remaining flexible, adaptable, and continuously engaged with the community. Most importantly, it demonstrates that effective community management can empower us to tackle the world’s most pressing issues, such as climate change.
Want to learn about fundraising strategies and NGO collaboration? Read how you can harness the power of your community for NGO growth by Balazs Horvath at the Open Social Summit!