Building on previous citizen-driven rural climate dialogues in Morris, Grand Rapids and Winona, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and the Jefferson Center convened a state meeting of rural Minnesota citizens, state agency representatives and non-profit organizations on September 8-9, 2016 in St. Paul. Rural citizens were selected from participants in the three dialogues and community leaders. Participating agencies and organizations included: MN Department of Agriculture, MN Pollution Control Agency, MN Department of Transportation, MN Department of Commerce, MN Environmental Quality Board, MN Board of Water and Soil Resources, MN Department of Employment and Economic Development, MN Department of Natural Resources.
Each of the three Rural Climate Dialogues produced a separate action plan detailing how that community could respond to climate change. One of the common priorities of all three dialogues was the need to strengthen connections with and navigate state agencies and programs. At the state-level meeting, rural participants from the three communities identified their shared climate action priorities and presented these to state agencies. Top priorities included: strategies to transition toward a clean energy future; strengthening infrastructure like roads, housing and other utilities to be more climate resilient; improving the management and stewardship of rural land including more sustainable agricultural practices, watershed planning and management; and integrating ecotourism and education to drive community level change.