Last week, the at-Bristol science centre hosted 150 environmental communicators for Communicate, a two-day conference of inspiring presentations, challenging ideas, and workshops. Earthwatch’s Rob Stringer joined the conference, and came home with new perspectives and ideas on how to share the FreshWater Watch initiative with the world.
Some of the most compelling stories are those which have tangible enemies “with an intent to harm”, said George Marshall, co-founder of Climate Outreach and Information Network (COIN). George was giving a talk about communicating climate change, based around the research carried out for his new book: “Don’t even think about it: Why we are wired to ignore climate change”.
An issue with talking about climate change (or more specifically, a reason why people don't talk about climate change) is that there is no tangible enemy. It can often feel abstract. A good way to tackle communicating climate change is to make it immediately relevant. Instead of talking about it on a global scale, we can make it regional – and show how it will actually impact communities and localities. This way of thinking is transferable to Freshwater Watch, which is a global initiative but relies on observations at local waterbodies around home communities and workplaces.
We then heard from Tim Scoones (Executive Producer, BBC Natural History Unit) and Lisa Sargood (digital strategy advisor, Horton Wolfe Ltd) as they discussed the value of using multiple platforms. As a citizen science project, FreshWater Watch is perfect for enabling our online community to share ideas and inspire each other, so look out for more opportunities and activities to get involved in, in our Forums and Blogs soon!
Working with big brands
Day Two offered some insight into working with big brands and companies. There was lots of good discussion about the opportunities for sharing values and knowledge, innovating, and enabling charities to achieve their missions. At FreshWater Watch, we work with HSBC and Shell, and welcome more partners, as we recognise the importance of working alongside businesses to help bring about positive results from our conservation action, while engaging their employees and influencing how they manage sustainable operations.
Some emphasis during the conference was placed on Mythbusting, looking at how misconceptions often triumph over the truth in the public realm. As environmental coordinators it’s our responsibility to be up to date with scientific thinking and knowledge. Relating to this, an extremely useful practical session demonstrated how to use statistics and facts cautiously and effectively, exploring how we can “say something exciting and still tell the truth”.
Overall, it was a fantastic two days of discussing ideas, challenging preconceptions and meeting many other people in similar fields. I look forward to Communicate 2015. And you never know, we may even get an opportunity to present FreshWater Watch next year!
Rob is HSBC Water Programme Communications Coordinator for Earthwatch, working on a five-year programme in partnership with Earthwatch, WaterAid and WWF. The programme is delivering the powerful combination of water provision, protection, information and education.