When the international Paris Agreement on climate change officially went into effect in late 2016, all of the nations that signed the treaty found themselves with some big promises to live up to. And if governments and businesses are unsure how, exactly, to translate such lofty language into practical action, they give people like Dave Gajadhar a call.
“If somebody asks me what I do, I say I simplify business complexities,” Dave says. A lot of documents like the Paris Agreement are “broad-brush statements,” he says, but people don’t always understand what it means for them. “It’s about connecting the dots, and simplifying large ideas down to the level where average people can do something with them.”
Much of Dave’s work involves bringing the human perspective back into the world of government decision making. He frequently works with organizations looking to modernize their human services programs, and advises governments on ways to protect their most vulnerable citizens from gaps in the system. For the past three years, Dave has also sat on the City’s Accessibility Advisory Committee, helping ensure that all Edmontonians are able to get from point A to point B.
To Dave, public engagement is not just a right, but an obligation. “It’s easy to point the finger and say it’s someone else’s fault,” he says. “But as the taxpayer, you have an accountability to yourself to be involved, to drive the community in the direction it needs to go. The accountability falls with each individual taxpayer, not just the politicians.”
Throughout that process, plain language has an important role to play — as Dave knows from his day job. “If I can’t describe it,” he says, “I can’t sell it.”