Engaging with the community
Building consensus street by street
We believe that the broader community, including community organizations, should be engaged in designing and implementing both the community air monitoring network and any subsequent actions or measures to address air pollution.
Air pollution is, above all, a process – with many actors and factors. There are human actors. There are economic and infrastructure factors as well as purely natural ones such as topography and meteorology. There are also social factors such as public awareness of the matter.
If our goal is to reduce the risks posed by poor air quality to our health, to our agriculture and our ecosystems, we must find out where in this process we can intervene with the maximum benefit –- and, if possible, with the minimum expense. Obviously, we cannot do anything about the geographical situation of Sóller or its topography. Nor will we be able to do much about its climate.
We must engage, therefore, with the human actors, with the entire community. Robust engagement with community stakeholders and residents, who are directly impacted by dirty air, is critical when creating thoughtful, responsive, and impactful clean air solutions. Engagement through one-on-one interviews, focus groups, and citizen science campaigns will help co-produce knowledge, increase self-efficacy among community members, and ultimately build trust and ensure better results and help build political support for action.
Data from the air monitoring network should be made available to the community in accessible, understandable, accurate, and useful formats.
We must look for community consensus. Air pollution has a range of human causes: cars and vehicles – and remember we have almost as many vehicles as inhabitants in Sóller; also the burning of prunings and farm waste at certain times of day thanks to our dramatic and unique topography; and, thirdly, the emissions from our wood-burning stoves.
In short, we all share the blame and we all share the consequences. And we must, therefore, share a commitment.
A commitment to inform ourselves. A commitment to get involved in educating ourselves and others about air quality. And a commitment to do as much as we can to minimise the risks to ourselves and others.
We believe that real change will only come from an engaged, informed public, one that is aware of the issue and that actively participates in finding solutions. Indeed, the Aarhus Convention recognises our right to participate in the formulation of plans relating to the environment and empowers us to do so.
Finally, creating opportunities for diverse community members to participate throughout the development of our network can also contribute to its success by:
- Leveraging their capacities, knowledge, and social networks
- Building capacity and awareness in the community about air quality and its potential health impacts
- Strengthening local credibility of the network and the data that it produces.
- Increasing the likelihood that network data will be used to support actions that reduce exposure and pollution sources