NBS Working Session on Civic Dialogue


NBS, working with researcher Dr. Tom Webler, is developing resources to enable businesses to engage in civic dialogue.

Civic dialogue was identified by the NBS Leadership Council as an important pathway to sustainability (see 2013 Challenges Report).

What is civic dialogue?

Civic dialogues bring diverse people together for conversations that build mutual understanding and enable collective action. They are democratic processes that engage regular citizens; they may also include experts. In multiple settings, they have achieved widespread change on complex issues. Civic dialogues have been used to set priorities for national-level agendas on issues such as energy (e.g. the Dutch National Environmental Policy Plans), and also to address issues at regional and local levels (e.g. the Alberta Climate Dialogue). They create social license for action, foster innovation and enable agreement on controversial issues.

A working session to gather insight

On September 23, 2013, NBS held an invitation-only working session to build on a draft briefing report developed by Dr. Webler. Experts on civic dialogue joined leaders from business, government, NGOs and academia to identify how business can engage Canadians in sustainability through civic dialogue.

Graphic illustrator Jennifer Shepherd captured the day’s discussion in images and words.

Next steps

NBS and Dr. Webler will incorporate forum participants’ feedback in to the next version of the briefing document, to be released in January.


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