Climate Summit for Local Government

Sept 6-8, 2023 | Melbourne
The Borough of Queenscliffe has partnered with Queenscliffe Climate Action Group and the Wadawurrung traditional owners to co-develop Council’s Climate Emergency Response Plan, demonstrating what is possible when council and residents work together in an open, respectful and forward thinking way.

This case study takes a look at how one of Australia’s smallest councils collaborates with community members to punch above its weight in climate action.

Borough of Queenscliffe councillors


The issue

Climate change is affecting communities, and the Borough of Queenscliffe (BoQ) has decided to take action.

Council partnered with the Queenscliffe Climate Action Group (QCAG) to develop the BoQ Climate Emergency Response Plan (CERP). QCAG is a group of local residents united in a growing concern about the impacts of climate change.

The partnership commenced in 2019 and saw Council declare a Climate Emergency after QCAG had collected over 2000 signatures on a petition. Following the declaration, the BoQ committed to an in-depth engagement process to develop the CERP. QCAG worked with Council to design the engagement process and then took a leadership role as Council worked with the community to develop the vision and actions of the CERP.


What is a Climate Emergency Response Plan?

A Climate Emergency Response Plan identifies the threats a community is facing in relation to climate change and concentrates on what the Council can do to make a difference.

Developing a CERP is the next step councils take after declaring a state of climate emergency, and details the actions that must be taken in order to lower emissions.

The goal of a CERP should be to achieve maximum protection for all life through:

  • achieving net zero emissions for the council
  • encouraging a similar response outside of Council area at all levels of government

According to Council and community Action in the Climate Emergency (CACE), the targets set under CERPs must be within a 10 year timeline (i.e. not net zero by 2040).


How did the Borough of Queenscliffe create their climate emergency plan?

During the creation of the community-led Climate Emergency Response Plan, Council and QCAG were successful in gaining the commitment of 16 community groups/organisations who will help or have already helped implement actions from the CERP.

The collaboration with QCAG was initially based on providing guidance to the group to help them get established and navigate the processes of Council. BoQ facilitated meetings and worked through the technical aspects of getting the issue on the Council agenda. Once Council had committed to developing the CERP with the community, they designed a deliberative engagement process together. From there, a structure for communication was established, as well as a framework of community objectives to prepare the content to include in the CERP.

Another key partnership during CERP development was the work council and the community did with the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation. This has grown into an ongoing discussion that will continue through implementation, and is key to the CERP’s Vision. The collaboration with the Wadawurrung has developed through Council’s commitment to listen and to recognise the importance of the Wadawurrung Healthy Country Plan as a guide to understanding Country and developing the actions in the CERP.

In summary, the collaborations worked because they were based on respect and a true commitment to listening and including matters of importance and insight into the final plan.

Climate Emergency Plan Outcomes 

While the partnership between Council and the Queenscliffe Climate Action Group is still developing, the CERP has been effective in steering that transition. There is a clear understanding of the respective roles both parties can play, and the support they can provide each other to progress initiatives.

The level of community input has meant that when Council developed the CERP, the importance of the Wadawurrung connection to Country became key elements of the Council Plan. The CERP also highlighted actions for Council to prioritise, such as the development of a Reconciliation Action Plan that will improve Councils and the community’s cultural awareness.

The partnership benefits the community through a trusted formal relationship with Council (through QCAG) to work together in the implementation of actions. This in turn benefits Council when implementing CERP actions that they may have otherwise not have had the resources to achieve.

The CERP’s overall aims are ambitious but achievable, aiming for zero-net emissions by 2031.

In partnership with QCAG, Council is currently working on delivery of short-term actions whilst creating their implementation plan that provides more detail on funding, community and council involvement, and developing a robust monitoring and evaluation plan.


Great things are achieved when councils work in partnership with their community.

The Borough of Queenscliffe was a winner in the Community Choice category in the Cities Power Partnership Climate Awards 2021.

For more information about this project or other case studies on our website, please contact us at [email protected].

CPP Awards 2021 Logo Winner