Module 5 - Collaborative Skills for Local Green Initiatives

1. Introduction

Brief description of the unit: In this unit you will be able to identify the main barriers and opportunities for collaboration to ignite green initiatives and strengthen the engagement of adults. Identify the main everyday scenarios where to improve peer-to-peer collaboration and encourage neighbours in adopting a greener lifestyle. Being able to apply simple strategies to launch and organise local green initiatives. Encourage an intergenerational approach in transferring knowledge toward new generations.

Competence statement:

To recognize the main components of collaboration and effective skills and learn how to apply them in life, especially under green initiatives. Recognize the power of caring and engaging with the local and international community in a collaborative manner to achieve environmental protection and other green initiatives goals.

Learning outcomes:

  • Understand and be able to articulate the concepts of resilience and adaptation to change in relation to personal and environmental challenges.
  • Recognise and remember factors that contribute to individual and community resilience, particularly in light of the impact of climate change on ageing.
  • Develop practical skills to assess personal strengths, develop strategies for well-being and sustainable ageing, and demonstrate empathy in adapting to and embracing change.


Keywords:Collaborative skills, Effective communication, Cooperation, Teamwork, Green Initiatives, Grassroot movements.

Expected time: 8 hours

2. Collaborative Skills

Collaboration skills are referred to as teamwork or interpersonal relationships. It means to build a relationship with the team, resolving conflicts and creating an effective work environment where everyone feels included and respected whilst working to achieve a common goal. They are essential in most social settings as well as in the workplace. Collaborative skills encompass a variety of attributes and competencies, including:

  • Effective communication: Actively listening to others and communicating in a clear and concise manner. This skill is especially important to facilitate communication when the topics are complex and/or sensitive. Good communicators are able to inform, ask questions, provide feedback in a way that is easily accepted and understood.


  • Problem-Solving & Conflict Resolution: Whilst working as a team, problems or conflicts often surge. That is normal however, it is necessary to have a collaborative attitude in order to address and solve the issues constructively and inclusively. It requires problem identification, finding a mutually accepted solution (ex. Brainstorming session between the team), reach a consensus and decision-making as a team.


  • Team building: It is an ongoing process where interactions, activities and exercises are used on a regular way to nurture a sense of mutual respect, trust and sense of belonging through a set of shared goals and/or values. Effective teams are set on collaborative behaviours where the interpersonal relationships contribute to a more positive work environment.


  • Flexibility & Open-mindedness: Being open and positive towards others’ ideas and points of view is a crucial aspect of collaborative work since it ensures that everyone is valued and respected. The ability to adapt and adjust to changing circumstances is also essential to ensure the success of the collaborative work and to achieve the common goals. A positive outlook is also important to cultivate mutual support and keep motivation high.


  • Accountability & Reliability: Being able to rely on the team members commitment to finish the given tasks allows a better workflow. It creates a sense of respect for the agreed tasks distribution and established deadlines.


  • Empathy: More empathic individuals can better understand other perspectives, challenges, and motivations. This allows them to connect on a deeper level and so being more collaborative.

Practical material


Activities for reflection

Can you list some daily situations where having collaborative skills comes in handy?

What are, in your opinion, the main challenges when developing a green initiative programme that requires stakeholders from different sectors?

3. Elements of Green Advocacy

Local green initiatives goals and strategies

Green initiatives gather different people under a common umbrella: the desire to conserve and protect nature and biodiversity. This is their general common goal. To be a success, these initiatives require the proper collaboration of different stakeholders. The constructive and effective work of these different stakeholders ensures the success of the green initiative.

The set goals, objectives, and strategies provide a framework for local green initiatives to address the specific environmental challenges and opportunities in their communities, leading to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future.

To begin, the green initiative has to be developed by somebody, be it an environmental NGO, a group of concerned citizens or others. Green initiatives, as the name indicates, only need initiative and a propelling group to pass the initiative from the paper to real-life. The categorization of who starts the initiative is not essential, what is essential is the drive and sense of mission of its members.

Since green initiatives are often community-led advocacy groups, their strategies focus on involving the community in their programs such as workshops, clean-up activities, tree planting, and so on. This engagement will raise the population’s awareness of the local environmental challenges and the opportunities they have to partake in a positive impact. This will build up the green initiative’s strength in numbers since some can become volunteers/ members, donors or spokespersons. Collaborating with local businesses and NGOs will also increase their relevance and visibility.

To increase the seriousness of the initiative, monitoring and data should be done on the initiatives. By proving the initiative’s positive impacts, its relevance and righteousness become clearer. This also makes the initiative more eligible for funding and investments which in turn will feed the number of outputs it can have in the community, such as project pilots and demonstrations.

Engaging schools is also a very powerful strategy. By reaching younger people, the initiative is educating the future education that can take their principles and increase its impacts for a longer period. It also contributes to raising more eco-literate and conscious citizens who are more capable of being sustainability agents for the future.

The ultimate goal and strategy is reaching local governance. For the initiative implementation and success, often the local authorities and governmental organs need to be involved. They can implement regulations and laws to encourage sustainability, give funding and resources to green initiatives and coordinate relations and activities with other stakeholders. In this way, the initiative will gain an active voice of change in the community. The initiative’s vision can be integrated in local sustainable strategies, urban planning, and conservation measures.

Overall, the success of a green initiative depends on the effectiveness and collaboration of the involved stakeholders. Every member, organisation and sector of the community have a role in propelling or preventing its success. It is important to consider and engage the community to foment sustainable habits, raise environmental awareness, boost the support for green initiatives and policies so we can develop more eco-friendly communities.

Local green initiatives typically have specific goals, objectives, and strategies aimed at promoting sustainability and environmental conservation at the community level. These goals, objectives, and strategies can vary widely depending on the particular needs and priorities of each community, but here are some common examples:

These goals, objectives, and strategies provide a framework for local green initiatives to address the specific environmental challenges and opportunities in their communities, leading to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future.

Collaborative Discussions in Green Initiatives

Collaborative discussions, in whatever setting they are held, are guided by several key principles that help ensure effective communication, problem-solving, and cooperation among participants. These principles promote a productive and respectful exchange of ideas and information. Here are the main principles of collaborative discussions (fig. 1):

Figure 1Key elements of a collaborative discussion.

By adhering to these principles, collaborative discussions can be more productive, respectful, and conducive to achieving shared goals and objectives. Effective collaboration is essential in a wide range of contexts. In the specific case of local green initiatives, they often have specific goals and strategies that fit the local environmental necessities. Some of the goals are presented in the table below:

Main topic

Actions examples

Environmental conservation

Protect and preserve a local environmental feature: tree, a patch of forest, a water body, a section of the coastal line, etc. Clean-up activities.

Biodiversity preservation

Campaigns to protect key local species. Actions to fight invasive species. Planting native trees and plants.

Sustainable Resources Use

Campaigns to reduce the use of water, energy and land. Promote waste reduction, in particular plastic, and promote reusing and recycling activities.

Climate action

Promote sustainable mobility to decrease greenhouse gases emissions. Improve local climatic resilience. Enhance building energy efficiency.

Environmental Education and Awareness

Workshops and similar education activities to promote environmental awareness. Create volunteering programmes.

Community Health and Well-being

Create natural leisure spaces to promote nature connection and physical activities. Improve water and air quality by promoting green areas. Promote local food production, community gardens and zero-waste food programs to improve community nutrition and minimize the environmental footprint.


Grassroot Organizations

Grassroots movements are movements organised by a group of individuals in a determined place that work towards a common goal. Their aim is to bring social and political change to their local environment, they combine their efforts to up-scale the initiative. They use a bottom-up strategy – focus on the micro-scale to achieve a macro change – even if they don’t realise this strategy is being used. Usually, they are formed in an organic manner that gains strength from the power of their convictions (Brian Ka Chan, 2020; Longley, 2022).

For example, the +350 is climate grassroot movement. Their goal is to work towards the end of fossil fuels and to develop a global community centred on renewable energy, inclusivity, and justice.

Practical material

Activity 1: “Lets green collaborate?”

Activity 2: “Collaborative garden”

Activities for reflection

Did you ever get involved in environmental volunteering programmes? Why? If yes, what did you learn and what impact did it have? If not, why?

Do you know any local green initiative that you could be involved in? If not, can you find one?

4. Unit in a nutshell

5. Quizzes

6. Further reading

  • Report: Older People and Climate Change: the Case for Better Engagement (Haq et al., 2010)


  • Article: Older People and Action on Climate Change: A Powerful But Underutilized Resource  (Pillemer et al., 2021)



7. References

  • Andriollo, E., Caimo, A., Secco, L., & Pisani, E. (2021). Collaborations in Environmental Initiatives for an Effective “Adaptive Governance” of Social–Ecological Systems: What Existing Literature Suggests. Sustainability, 13(15), 8276–8276.


  • Azevedo, C., & Sánchez, M. (2019). Pathways to Sustainable Intergenerational Programs: Lessons Learned from Portugal. Sustainability, 11(23), 6626.




  • Everingham, J.-A., Warburton, J., Cuthill, M., & Bartlett, H. (2012). Collaborative Governance of Ageing: Challenges for Local Government in Partnering with the Seniors’ Sector. Local Government Studies, 38(2), 161–181.









  • Uchiyama, Y., Chika Takatori, & Ryo Kohsaka. (2022). Designing participatory green area management and biodiversity conservation strategies in the era of population shrinkage: empirical analysis of multi-generational perceptions on Satoyama rare species in central Japan. Landscape and Ecological Engineering, 18(3), 321–339.
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