|To achieve sustainable initiatives, local authorities are implementing sustainability plans by two different approaches, implementing community-wide sustainability plans with multi-stakeholder partnerships and implementing corporate sustainability plans without multi-stakeholder partnerships. These plans, including Integrated Community Sustainability Plans and Climate Action Plans have roots in global sustainability movements shaped by United Nations initiatives, such as Agenda 21 and Local Agenda 21. Within these movements, municipal actors are both pursuing sustainability goals at the corporate level and partnering with local organizations to achieve sustainability goals at the community level.
The role of leadership is recognized as central to the effective management of plan implementation. Professional managerial competencies, as well as sustainability expertise and specialized cross-sector leadership competencies, have been generally discussed as important competencies for individuals managing the formulation and implementation of sustainability plans. However, there is scant research that examines such micro-level dynamics of plan implementation and of multi-stakeholder partnership management, including the specificities of these competencies, such as what competencies are linked to them and how individuals use them to achieve results.
This research explores which competencies are most needed to implement sustainability plans and/or manage partner engagement across sectors. The study identifies nine competency clusters and forty-nine competencies. The nine competency clusters include communication, project management, individual attributes, knowledge management, problem-solving, teamwork and cooperation, team leadership, engagement, and impact and influence. Early insights indicate that competencies, such as knowledge integration, communication, facilitation, and relationship-building, are key to facilitating cross-sector collaborations. Similarly, project management, teamwork and cooperation, and team leadership are key to inside sector collaborations.
Improved understanding of the key competencies needed to implement sustainability plans may inform training and post-secondary curricula for educating future sustainability practitioners. Ultimately, the aim of this research is to help communities attract and develop the human resources necessary to meet their climate action, energy conservation, and other sustainable development goals.