Community engagement on water futures
Community engagement on water futures
New approaches to engaging the community are needed to navigate the increasing complexity of planning urban water systems in the face of uncertain climatic, social, economic and political futures. This paper shares an innovative approach developed by the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney in collaboration with the NSW Government’s Metropolitan Water Directorate. The community engagement process described in this paper was conducted for the greater Sydney region, whose population is expected to reach nearly 6 million by 2036 (NSW Office of Water 2010).

Our approach integrated futures visioning, Appreciative Inquiry and creative processes to engage the community on their vision for the future. Futures methods are built on a fundamental principle that our “image of the future” – combining foresights as well as aspirations – is core to anticipating, driving and deciding how to achieve change (Voros 2001). Appreciative Inquiry is a form of inquiry which focuses on discovering the positive within any social situation as a way to create change. Appreciative Inquiry approaches recognise that the meaning and knowledge created depends on the language used.
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