Civil society

How can communities lead the transition to net zero?

Our Zero Selby
Forum for the Future, Selby District AVS
Two years

How the UK meets its climate targets will affect all of our lives - from how we travel and heat our homes, to what we eat and what we buy. These changes could bring significant benefits to communities. And that's most likely to happen where communities can shape the future of their area themselves.

But what would a community-led approach to tackling climate change look like? We teamed up with Forum for the Future to explore the answers. We also wanted to build our understanding of how a wide range of people and organisations - individuals, community groups, businesses, public authorities, investors, donors and others - could best work together to achieve a fair transition.

We planned to run pilots in two local areas. And the first of those was Our Zero Selby.

About Our Zero Selby 

Our Zero Selby aims to develop a community-led vision for Selby's future, prioritise ideas for local action, and get cracking on their delivery. The project has four main stages, supported by a Partnership Group and Advisory Group. We delivered the project in partnership with Selby District Association of Voluntary Service (AVS). 

From September to December 2021 we focused on crowdsourcing. We sought the input of local residents, community organisations, businesses, farmers, public sector organisations and others on five themes: 

Our crowdsourcing involved two overlapping strands of work. One aimed to reach people in their capacity as local residents. The other sought the input of people in their professional capacity, for example as local business owners, farmers, or public sector employees. Our methods included community conversations, online and offline surveys, pop-up stalls and old-fashioned meetings.

Our crowdsourcing asked everyone for their input to questions including:

  • What they liked about Selby and wanted to keep the same or build on;
  • What they would like to see change or added.

The ideas we collected went forward to a series of community decision-making events early in 2022 where members of the local community developed their vision for how to tackle climate change in a way which benefits everyone. They also prioritised ideas for action, for community groups, public authorities, businesses and others.

You can watch the video of the 3-day decision making event which took place earlier this year, below:

The final stage of the project saw us work with people and organisations locally to turn the priority ideas into reality. 

You can read the 'Our Zero Selby; Generating a community led just transition' report (May 2022) here. 

Who was involved? 

We worked with Forum for the Future and Selby District AVS.

Members of the Partnership Group and Advisory Group for Our Zero Selby included, in no particular order: 

  • Selby District Council
  • North Yorkshire County Council
  • Two Ridings Community Foundation 
  • Drax Power Limited 
  • Yorkshire Energy Doctor
  • Groundwork Yorkshire 
  • Monk Fryston and Hillam Sustainability Project
  • Selby Educational Trust
  • Selby Big Local
  • Selby Hands of Hope
  • Selby Abbey
  • Selby Library
  • Everyday Enable C.I.C.
  • Project: WILD C.I.C.
  • Selby Community Fridge

Our work was funded by: Energy for Tomorrow Fund, Friends Provident Foundation, Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and Treebeard Trust

You can find out more about Our Zero Selby and keep up-to-date with the project at 

Photo credit: Scott Cowling