Paris, Dec. 9 – Goodwill Ambassadors Angélique Kidjo and Bianca Jagger joined activists and private sector representatives at a UN Roundtable Discussion on communicating climate change through informal channels in Paris-Le Bourget. In the age of social media there are many ways of communicating climate change and bringing people together, but often there is a lack of action. Finding effective ways of using media to raise awareness around climate change is essential to combating it, as we are all part of the solution.
“We’re seeing that people have limited attention span, they have more choice than ever before in terms of what they pay attention to and you don’t always want to pay attention to something that’s scary and you feel like you have no control over. … To make it relevant, you have to show: How does it affect that person individually, how does it affect their family and their community, their specific context and then from there you can go to how does it affect all of us,” Max Schorr, Co-Founder of GOOD, said at the event.
Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador Bianca Jagger raised concern about a disconnect between the pledges made by world leaders and what is really going on at COP21.
“For people in the developed world it’s very difficult to understand the consequences of one degree, two degrees, three degrees or four degrees warming and it is one of the difficulties that people are having here are COP21 and that I find sometimes the media has because the media is not telling the truth to the public because they think it is too difficult. … We hear that world leaders are committed to a 1.5 warming of the world but … the pledges made by world leaders are the equivalent of 3.3 degrees Celsius warming by 2100,” Jagger said.
The former wife of Mick Jagger used the event to address the neglect of indigenous peoples in the climate negotiations and shared a personal experience with the audience. She could not get accreditation for indigenous people she was going to bring to a side-event at COP21.
“I was supposed to have a side-event with IUCN with two very prominent indigenous people from Brazil who won the Equator Prize. I could not get accreditation for them for the day when I was scheduled to have the side-event. I got it the following day. But until then, the day when it was supposed to be, they did not have it. The majority of the indigenous people who won the Equator Prize did not have accreditation. And tell me, how many indigenous peoples leaders do you see here in the blue zone? Very few. Why is that? It’s because we have double standards about how we deal with the real issues that are at stake when we’re talking about climate change,” Jagger said.
Grammy award winning singer-songwriter and Goodwill Ambassador Angélique Kidjo shared her perspective on the issues around successful communication of climate change.
“It’s interesting that we are talking about indigenous rights because we have been living this reality in Africa forever and it’s still going on,” Kidjo said. “Every form of art, if you want the message to go through, the first thing you have to avoid is to make people feel guilty. If people feel guilty there is no action. … You do concerts all around the world, you have all those big celebrities, not one African artist is there to speak or to sing on the behalf of the African continent. Every time it’s like that. It’s like we don’t count, basically. … How do you bring the message of Earth, climate change to the youth in Africa if they cannot relate to an artist that can speak to them? … We cannot get the message to people without them feeling that they are part of the solution.”
Jagger always tweets in five different languages to reach as many people as possible. While the panelists acknowledge the key role of social media, some raised concern about the actual impact of communication campaigns.
“Social media, we give it too much power, too. What I have seen with social media is that instead of connecting us, it disconnected us because we put too much information in there and most of the information you cannot go back and find the source of it,” Kidjo said. “Very few people take action based on social media. … It is terrible to see how social media has become something so fancy but with no depths.”
“I feel like I haven’t had any success because I haven’t solved anything. … What we have done hopefully though is at least plant the seed of curiosity. … We have to think about the relevancy of the communication, I think you have to find the tools that people find relevant to them,” UNEP Climate Hero and adventurer David de Rothschild said at the event.
Without social media, awareness around climate change would certainly be lower. Nevertheless, knowledge about climate change must be followed by action.
“What is exciting about social media is that word leaders, business leaders, all of us are now exposed if we’re assholes. … The best content that people want to share is content that creates positive emotions and is meaningful to people,” Schorr said.
Photo by: Cecilia Reifschneider