Why make a submission?
Local councils often ask the public to give feedback on changes to policies, new rules, or applications for projects. These are often issues that will affect the environment, and need to be changed to put Papatūānuku first. This is when you can have your say and make sure the environment is prioritised.
You don’t need to be an expert – it helps to write in an accessible, personal way that reminds the reader of the personal impact their decisions will have on your community. Decision makers are people too, and often wading through policy heavy documents – a personal touch can go a long way.
There may be an urgent issue you need to give input into. Or you may be a person who finds writing a submission the best way to raise your voice, from the comfort of home – you can regularly check the website for your local council. For example, Auckland Council has a website page for topics open to public feedback. Local Facebook or Neighbourly groups may be places where you can follow what’s current in your area, and find others who are concerned about sustainable solutions for the future.
Here are some tips from the Greenpeace crew on how to write an effective submission!
Before you write a submission
Go to the website for who is accepting submissions – It may be your city, district or regional council.
- Check the guidelines they have set;
- Check what kind of information they are asking for;
- Double check the final date to submit.
Make your submission
Your submission should include:
- The name of the the committee hearing the inquiry, or relevant title for the person leading the submission process;
- Your own name and contact details and the organisation you represent, if it applies. You may be writing on behalf of a community group, or with a friend.
- A request to give a verbal presentation to the committee if you want to do this.
The body of your submission should include:
- Your concerns – what are the risks to the environment?
- What your ideal outcome would be – create a picture for the reader of the best solution for everyone, if the environment is put first in this case.
- Any relevant evidence to support your opinion.
- Any personal context or experience that supports your perspective. You don’t need to be an expert, simply say what brings you to care for the best outcome in this situation.
A submission as part of a community campaign
When making a submission on behalf of a campaign, think of how to include the supporters and community. Supporter responses can highlight the existing themes in our submissions, to give impact to the policy recommendations. They can be real life stories that act as examples to the main points. They could be images that reflect the need for action.
By collating supporter responses within the submission the elected representatives don’t have to read each individual comment, but get the main idea. We can highlight the best quotes for them.
Make sure to share the submission with supporters afterwards to reflect back to the community their involvement, and the collective impact of our action.
Speaking to your submission
Sometimes during a submission period you will have the chance to speak to what you wrote – if you do this it will strengthen your case.
If so, you will be notified after the submission period has closed when your speaking date will be. You may have made a similar submission to others, and have the chance to present together.
Speaking to your submission can be an opportunity to highlight the most important points, and for them to ask you any questions. If you can leave half the time given to you open for questions it will open a space for them to raise the points that concern them as decision makers.
Does it feel scarier to speak in person, than in writing? Write out your key points to speak about, and practice with a friend for confidence. Ask a friend to go along with you for support.
Once the submission period has closed, the decision makers (this could be the committee, council staff, elected councillors or members of an inquiry) will evaluate all the submissions and make a decision based on the information.
Have a question? Email the mobilisation team at [email protected]