ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability
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Program Name
Applying Sustainable Thinking in the Workplace

Municipal Profile
Population: 500,000
Budget: US$715 million
Land Area: 1,123 square kilometers
Economic Activities: health sciences, manufacturing, agriculture
Environmental Expertise: sustainability, air quality

Issue Addressed
Environmental Education

Key Management Concept
Training that is effective and relevant to staff in all departments can help embed sustainability principles into a local government's corporate culture.

Program Goals
The program goals include firmly embedding the principles of sustainability into the corporate culture and decision-making process of the municipality; building awareness and commitment to sustainability among staff across the corporation; and improving efficiency and effectiveness by having staff communicate and partner to address the social, economic, and environmental elements of sustainability.

Program Abstract
In 1992 the Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth adopted "VISION 2020-The Sustainable Region" as a basis for regional decision making. The vision statement is an image of a better community and a goal toward which the city can strive. Sustainable development and VISION 2020 are a challenge to every citizen of Hamilton to think about how their actions can move the community towards a more sustainable future.

In July 2001, Hamilton's VISION 2020 coordinator proposed conducting training on sustainability in the newly-amalgamated City of Hamilton (encompassing the former regional and local municipalities) to increase awareness, commitment, and expertise in integrating sustainability into corporate decision making. After undertaking a series of individual training presentations followed by a mandatory session for 400 staff involved in writing reports to council, it became apparent that integrating sustainability required both culture change and change management. A wider-reaching training program was necessary.

In September 2002, the Corporate Management Team gave the Staff Working Group on Sustainable Development (SWG) the mandate to train 5,000 staff to think about "social, environmental, and economic considerations in their day-to-day work." Having the senior management team and the city manager deem the training mandatory for all staff was crucial as it enabled the program to be implemented despite heavy workloads.

The city's adult learning professional helped the SWG identify a methodology that respected the training needs of the audience. The learning professional also helped the SWG create a training program that would be understood and relevant to staff with varied job responsibilities and work environments.

Using the "train the trainer" model, the SWG provided full-day training sessions for all trainers identified by city departments. Trainers gained skills in adult training techniques and became new "champions" of sustainability. Departmental trainers were supported by departmental training coordinators who handled training session logistics, developed a training kit containing multi-media training materials and social marketing tools, prepared a training manual containing a curriculum and lesson materials, created a corporate training resource on the VISION 2020 website, and continually liaised with the SWG representatives in each department.

The final key program element was to design a monitoring and evaluation program. A web-based, interactive training program has been identified as one of the next steps.

The VISION 2020 Corporate Training Program has been largely implemented. Program evaluation sheets consistently show that knowledge of sustainability and VISION 2020 has increased significantly across the corporation. The skill level of participants in applying sustainable thinking will be measured over time through a review of staff reports to council to determine the quality of the analysis offered by staff under the heading "Strategic Commitment-What are the Social, Environmental and Economic Implications of Your Recommendation?" On the customer service side, anecdotal evidence suggests that staff have a greater sense of their role in working towards an overall vision and goals that are shared by the city, citizens, and businesses.

The project budget of US$11,000 was apportioned from existing training budgets in each of the six city departments.

Staff time for the SWG members was allocated at 16 hours per person for 10 persons. Unspecified hours were accommodated in the salaries of planning and development staff who are responsible for working on VISION 2020.

Lessons Learned
Since research indicates that only 17% of adults learn effectively from a lecture format, training must be designed to effectively reach adult learners. Training large numbers of staff in a range of work environments will never result in all employees being proficient in the theory of sustainability and all of the tools available to implement it within their area of expertise. More in-depth training and resources are also required. When evaluating the need for large-scale training in "sustainable thinking" versus more targeted training for professional staff, the benefits of culture change should not be underrated. A core group of committed individuals at the senior and staff level is essential.

A case scenario workshop formed part of the training session exercise. The most successful sessions were those where the departmental trainers adjusted the scenarios to actual situations that were likely to occur in their departments.

Key Publications
City of Hamilton Staff Working Group on Sustainable Development. 2003. Applying Sustainable Thinking In The Workplace-Training Manual.
City of Hamilton Staff Working Group on Sustainable Development. 2003. Applying Sustainable Thinking in the Workplace-A Training Program on VISION 2020 for People Who Work For The City of Hamilton (Reference Sheet).

Linda Harvey, VISION 2020 Coordinator
Planning & Development Department, Long Range Planning & Design
City of Hamilton
71 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
L8P 4Y5
Tel: +1-905/643-1262 Ext. 276
Fax: +1-905/643-7250
Email: liharvey@hamilton.ca

www.hamilton.ca www.vision2020.hamilton.ca