Lately I have become more interested on the importance of effective use of infographics and data visualization to communicate a message, especially how it could help to share data related to my work with Momentum for Change. I am planning to attend a few conferences this year like see conference and may try to go to re:publica again this year to keep in touch with agencies working in this space.
I think it is straight forward and a good way to get a taste of a 106 page report. We are currently working on a report on the Momentum for Change activities from last year, and would include some infographics. I’ll share here when ready as well.
So my mother has always asked me about what I do at work, and it has always been hard to explain. Below some of the one-line descriptions that I have given:
– I work to promote youth participation in international decision-making process;
– I help Fortune 500 companies empower young immigrants in New York through volunteerism;
– I help to facilitate a network of foundations supporting environmental work around the world;
– I support international climate change negotiations on helping to build the capacity of developing countries;
– I support international climate change negotiations on how to financially support developing countries in their efforts to address climate change.
Note how the one line has been getting longer throughout the years… But now that I work on Momentum for Change at the United Nations Climate Change secretariat, I can just say that I work on fighting climate change. I even get to share these amazing little videos that tell more about my work! Enjoy!
Short description of the UNFCCC 2012 Momentum for Change Lighthouse Actvities
Short trailer for the launch of Momentum for Change: Women for Results
Short trailer for the launch of Momentum for Change: Innovative Financing for Climate-friendly Investment Trailer
Check out this nice little video on the history of the climate change communications by the Norwegian organization Cicero. It is short, funny and to the point! Good example of how to communicate on what the negotiations are at a very macro level but in a way that it is not difficult to understand. Enjoy!
I don’t like the fact that they play with seemingly real food in the first one… The second one is pretty cool, and I think I had seen it a few months ago. It would probably play well with some of my beer-drinking friends 🙂
In any case, both are interesting examples of using creative ways to communicate with the general public about climate change and it may be worthwhile to share them around.
By the time I got around to writing about the Bonn April 2010 meetings, I found out that a lot of people have already written a lot about it, so I’m just going to list a few pieces that I thought are worth-reading:
Yesterday, I learned about an initiative called Plant for the Planet. It is spearheaded by an organization called the Global Marshall Plan out of Germany. Their motto is “stop talking, start planting,” and has gained significant media exposure.
The face of the campaign is a 12-year old boy named Felix Finkbeiner, who has been able to convince politicians, activists and celebrities to let him take pictures of them with his hand over their mouths, as if he was shutting them up – it’s pretty nice 🙂
The group plans to do a big “tree planting party” at the next round of climate change negotiations in Bonn this coming May. They expect to bring thousands of children, who like Felix plan to tell the negotiators to shut up and start planting. It’ll be a sight to see!
I find it particularly amazing how a fairly unexpected win by Scott Brown in Massachusetts may derail any chance of securing a legally binding treaty on climate change. Even before his election, the potential of passing a cap-and-trade bill in the US Congress seemed as a very challenging undertaking. Now, without a filibuster-majority, there is not any chance to pass a comprehensive climate change bill this year. Instead, the US Congress will likely pass a bipartisan energy bill, focusing on issues of energy security and efficiency, but without the much needed cap in carbon emissions. This would pretty much relinquish the Obama administration’s ability to cut a real global deal with legally binding provisions, and may even throw away the possibility of implementing the Copenhagen Accords.
Key developing countries such as China and India already seized the opportunity to jump ship from signing into the Copenhagen Accords, which they were responsible for putting together (China in particular was responsible for deleting any mention of mitigation targets by developed countries by 2050). One of the reasons they have claimed for not following up with their commitments was the election of Scott Brown and the unlikelihood of an improved US negotiating position.
I hope that the Obama administration is able to pull some type of miracle and convince some Republicans to sign up to a comprehensive climate bill, otherwise the whole world will be condemned by parochial politics in Massachusetts.
After returning to Bonn, I have had a chance to reflect on the outcome of COP 15. The lack of success had a significant toll on the emotional and physical health of many of my colleagues and friends attending the Summit, but I want to focus on constructive solutions to some of the many problems that came up from COP 15.
1) Logistics: Over 40 thousand people ended up showing up in Copenhagen for COP 15, while the Bella Center only was able to hold 15 thousand people. It is incredible that the UN and the Danish government could not predict that logistical nightmare that many participants had to endure on their way in to the negotiations. It is imperative that for upcoming conferences, the UN and the host country recognize that climate change has become a top-political issue and will bring thousands of activists, government officials and media representatives interested in influencing the process. For example, passes could be mailed in advance or distributed in multiple venues throughout the host city, accreditation could reflect the venue’s size (!) and increasing efforts for video conferencing the sessions could be put in place.
2) Consensus vs. majority-based decision-making: One thing that was demonstrated at COP 15 was that the consensus-based model for decision making within the UNFCCC process is dated. The Copenhagen Accord was by no means the perfect outcome, but it still provided a good first step for on-going negotiations. The role of certain countries in bringing their national ideological struggles to the Summit, while denying the international community of some progress in its attempt to deal with climate change was regrettable. I hope that Parties to the UNFCCC reconsider this process, otherwise climate change issues may end up being discussed in a smaller, less democratic setting.
3) The role of the media: For the first time in its history, a COP meeting attracted a level of media attention reserved for high-level meetings for (controversial) organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO). On one hand this demonstrates the level of political relevance that climate change has been able to achieve, but it also contributes to the circus atmosphere felt in Copenhagen. A colleague told me that when you have over 5 thousand journalists all seeking for the juiciest story, it is only inevitable for tensions to rise as politicians try to look good for audiences back home. For example, the media pressure may have led President Obama to rush an agreement with a limited amount of countries. I was particularly surprised to see journalists holding negotiating text before government officials did!
4) The role of the United Nations: As I mentioned before, there is a serious risk for the negotiation process on climate change issues to be taken out of the UNFCCC context. This is indeed a very dangerous prospect! Not just for the obvious personal reasons, but because the UN, with all of its imperfections, still remains the only inclusive global forum. I do think that the process needs to be reformed (see point 2), but government officials, especially those from small developing countries should discourage any attempts to move the negotiation setting to grouping such as the G7 or G20.
I’ll make sure to keep sharing my thoughts on the UNFCCC process on this blog! I remain hopeful that COP 16 in Mexico will help us get back on track to save humanity from irreversible climate change.
I recently read Adam Werbach’s newest speech to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. The first one was extremely controversial among the environmental community, as it declared environmentalism dead. This was huge given Werbach’s work with Sierra Club (youngest president ever at 23), and essentially as the poster boy for young people involved in environmental issues (for more discussion on this go to Grist.com).
The new speech still declares environmentalism dead, but instead declares the birth of a new movement called Blue. This new movement is essentially a movement made up by everyone and anyone, allowing people to become better consumers, design what he calls PSPs (personal sustainability practices), and live better, healthier lives. Werbach designed this idea while working for WalMart as a sustainability consultant (this obviously brought more controversy to his image). The concept also feeds to the same thinking embraced by the folks at the Breakthrough Institute (see my previous posting).
I think the idea has a lot of potential… Sure, people conscious of the magnitude of climate change, should consider ways to reduce consumption, and live healthier lives through more sustainable lifestyles. However, most people are not aware of this! Until there are massive investments into educating citizens around the world about the dangers posed by climate change, and ways to adapt and mitigate its effects, efforts like Blue actually make a lot of sense. I also think that Blue also changes the framework by which most people consume and behave as members of society. It provides a positive, non-confrontational solution to the way we approach sustainability.
I am convinced that this idea is going to remain controversial, especially among the activist community, but I am looking forward to gaging whether it becomes a true vibrant movement or not.