What works and what doesn’t in mobilizing friends, groups, and community members on climate change

March 20, 2016

WHAT WORKS IN MOBILIZING FRIENDS, GROUPS, and COMMUNITY MEMBERS ON CLIMATE CHANGE:

  • Inviting community-members to contribute their knowledge and get ‘hands-on’ in problem solving
  • Building & maintaining trust with all partners involved
  • Specifically addressing people’s concerns, values, questions, & ideas
  • Focusing on solutions & emphasizing co-benefits
  • Exploring future options and scenarios
  • Building public literacy on climate change issues & energy solutions
  • Engaging with target audiences on their turf, using media/ channels/spokespeople they already know
  • Making the process fun, social, active, and visible, e.g. competitions, creative activities
  • Using multiple tools & channels for engaging stakeholders, such as social & digital media, interactive workshops
  • Making information local, tangible, and immediate
  • Using compelling, interactive visual learning tools that attract attention and stay in people’s minds
  • Providing regular feedback and mediation to contributors in social media exchanges on planning issues

WHAT DOESN’T WORK IN MOBILIZING THE PUBLIC ON CLIMATE CHANGE (and what is needed instead):

  • Providing scientific or policy information on climate change without making it relevant and relatable to people’s lives
  • Top-down government energy programs, even with funding incentives, without early involvement, lead-up and community buy-in
  • Expecting typical citizens to come to public presentations and meetings in large numbers.  One on one and small meetings are more realistic and often are more effective.
  • Letting people think they are on their own in doing something about climate change.  Showing how we can/are working together is more encouraging.
  • Too much ‘doom and gloom’, and not enough fun, positive solutions and opportunities (and sure paths)
  • Uncertainty on incentive programs (vs. sure paths
  • Lack of accessible & simple information.
  • Lack of visibility of positive actions

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • Work in discrete geographic areas (eg. block scale) with interested neighbors, where activities are highly visible. 
  • Experiment with ‘do-it-yourself’ visual media to attract attention, provoke discussion, and spread ideas 
  • Form local buyers’ clubs to get discounts on building retrofit supplies

Results of the social mobilization research of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions: What works and what doesn’t for motivating people to act on climate change

See also: website of the Boston chapter of GCCM, the Boston Catholic Climate Movement.