by: E3G

May 23, 2024

Public Outreach Roundtable | Key Takeaways Blog

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In November 2023, the Professional Bodies Climate Action Charter (PBCAC) facilitated a virtual roundtable discussion to explore the topic of “public outreach” in the context of a professional body’s wider climate action goals.

Designed as a safe space for collaboration, learning, sharing and progressing, PBCAC signatories and supporters covered topics from resource efficiency to public values, common language to being a voice in the media.

The roundtable used the Chatham House rule, but it was deemed valuable to share some key discussion areas and questions for you to consider with your professional body. The result – a snapshot blog with handy topic headings for you to digest in the next 5 minutes.

With thanks to IEMA’s Martin Baxter CEnv for chairing the roundtable and the Society for the Environment for hosting.

Training the trainer

Using the concept of “training the trainer” is a powerful tool for cascading key messages across wider audiences – to colleagues across an organisation, or within community groups on a public level.

Often small sustainability teams within organisations need the skills to influence and engage other teams to distribute the decision making workload and instil a culture of sustainable thinking. Once a wider pool of colleagues are applying good practice for climate action into their daily work, the sustainability team can turn their attention to making even more impact for the organisation’s climate goals.

How can professional bodies provide training to allow this to become more commonplace?

Consider who might be the trainer that you aim to train. Who are they subsequently influencing? The initial trainers that you want to train could be:

  • Members
  • Colleagues
  • Key stakeholders
  • Community group leaders
  • Family
  • Followers / media viewers.

Professional bodies may be able to adapt their training to better prepare the trainer to engage these different audiences. Training one person to act on climate is one thing. Training them to then influence the actions of others is a whole new level of climate action.


Professional bodies are in an ideal position to influence and upskill their members on numerous topics applicable to their work – including climate action.

Beyond the workplace, these messages and new knowledge branches, if delivered positively, are known to spill over into home life – creating positive change across families and community groups. This can be a good source of professional body public outreach, though tricky to quantify.

Be the voice

Professional bodies can have a strong, influential voice. Make use of news stories related to climate action (e.g. a hosepipe ban) to position expert voices on public platforms to give their views but using understandable language for public engagement (train the trainer).

Beyond news stories, there is an opportunity to present the impacts of climate change in a way that is tailored to your sector / profession. Whilst your members may be engaged already, their colleagues and stakeholders may not be. A professional body could reach these audiences through engaging messaging.

Questions to consider

How does a professional body get the balance right between equipping their members to do their core job (highly important) and advocating for climate action to the public (also highly important)?

How much of your content is using language suitable for public understanding? Then, how much of this content is freely available for the public to learn from?

It’s incumbent on us as professions and professional bodies to work through some of the complexity of climate action and explore where there are things that can be done differently. How do we collectively advocate for change?

What values do different segments of the public hold dear? How does climate change impact their values, now and into the future? Can your messages and activities be curated to highlight where their values and climate change interact? Remember – each professional body is already engaging with a unique segment of the public with differing values compared to another professional body. So, what works and connects to ‘your’ public will be different to another professional body. It’s important to know ‘your’ public.

Clear and consistent language across professions and sectors is essential for cross learning and understanding. How can this be achieved? We may have a helpful guide coming soon…

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Blog Author

Blog written by Phil Underwood – Engagement Manager, Society for the Environment.