FAQs: Climate-Aligned Budgeting Cohort 2023

We are teaming up with ResourceX to help local governments increase their climate change and sustainability impact through better coordination between climate action,  budget and purchasing processes through a Budgeting for Climate Action Cohort (applications due on 01/27/23).

We encourage all interested communities to explore the following FAQs and email iclei-usa@iclei.org to answer any additional questions.

Why is ICLEI hosting this particular cohort?

The inspiration for this cohort came from mutual observations that ICLEI USA and ResourceX identified in our work with local governments across North America. Many communities are doing great, passionate work around climate action. We applaud this success, but we have often observed an ambition gap — something discussed in ICLEI USA’s recent policy brief. The ambition is there, and often the plans are in place, but a gap in moving into full-scale implementation.

What is the goal of the cohort?

The goal of the cohort is to help communities move beyond planning into action by leveraging municipal budgeting as a core component for implementation.

How will the cohort help communities move from planning to implementing?

While planning is important, we need to move beyond to begin activating these plans, something that takes a whole-of-government approach. Across the cohort sessions, there is a consistent emphasis on a whole-of-government approach. Technical experts will assist participants with enhancing collaboration between sustainability, budget and finance and procurement offices. We believe this will help overcome the ambition gap by identifying where budgets exist and where a path can be paved to leverage existing budgets to access additional funding.

What topics are covered in the cohort? 

We will start with a macro level overview for identifying a budget and priority-driven strategy. We will address the following questions with participants: 

  • How is climate viewed from a budgetary and financial lens? 
  • What do you control and where might you need additional funding? 
  • What are your community’s priorities and are those already embedded in financial decision-making?

Next, we’ll introduce participants to priority-based budgeting by

  • Matching your critical project with budget and finance tools
  • Creating budget requests for design strategies

What is the cohort schedule?

March – September 2023, mostly virtual with two in-person sessions.

Can participants miss a session? 

It will be challenging to miss a session, although we’ll make recordings and slides available. We encourage all participants to attend and engage throughout the cohort. We expect budget and finance to come together with sustainability and climate staff to collaborate.

What is the time commitment? 

We have 90- to 120-minute scheduled sessions about monthly. Please plan for 6 hours per week in total. If you have three people participating, you would split this, 2 hours per person per week.

What are the cohort deliverables? 

Cohort deliverables will include:

  • Identifying annual budget components that have climate action implications
  • Co-developing a project that will advance an activity from a municipal climate action plan and include it as a component of the municipal budget
  • Developing a corresponding procurement execution plan or RFP solicitation designed to execute budget appropriations
  • Developing policies or procedures for enduring communication and collaboration between sustainability and climate efforts and budget and procurement exercises
  • Committing to including sustainability staff lead in the city / county budget process

Will cohort participants be able to transform their process to priority-based budgeting?

Participation will not lead to a complete transformation in its current form. It will introduce you to the concepts and technology needed to move toward a climate-based budget. You can understand how to move from a line-item approach to budgeting to programmatic budgeting.

What are the eligibility requirements?

  • U.S. local governments
  • Cohort members will provide a team of (minimum) three members representing budget, sustainability and procurement functions. 
  • Teams will submit a sample of three potential projects from their climate action plans to evaluate and workshop through the process. 
  • Engagement in the cohort will yield a budget and procurement strategy that can be executed as part of the municipality’s 2023/2024 budget cycle.

Participants need to have:

  • Emission reduction ambition and  possess a specific emission reduction target;
  • Climate action plan and a minimum of one adopted climate policy or program;
  • Understanding of operating programs and capital projects and demonstrated capabilities to design procurement strategies;
  • Teams of senior officials empowered and with authority to develop a budget, procurement and sustainability policies; and
  • Executive-level organizational commitment to innovation in budget, procurement and sustainability innovation.

What are the fees and number of participants? 

  • Max participants: 12 Cities or counties
  • Fee Structure: $2,500 per city or county
    • (50 % of which may be applied to either new ICLEI Membership or ResourceX Project)