CEC Members Offer Advice on Communicating PAs and Climate Change

CEC members Frits Hesselink and Susanna Calvo attended the WCPA Climate Change Summit in Granada. They offer some strategic approaches to communicating the importance of protected areas to climate change mitigation.

Mangroves, Vanua Levu, Fiji

Frits Hesselink, CEC Special Advisor and former CEC Chair, and Susanna Calvo, CEC Regional Vice-Chair, attended the recent WCPA Climate Change Summit where they were invited to comment on a major publication in light of strategic communication.

Analyse audience in advance

They recommend analysing in advance the beliefs, attitudes and knowledge of the intended audiences -- and to adjust the choice of media accordingly. Is the attitude to the message favorable or unfavorable? Is there high or low familiarity with the message? In his blog on the CEPA Toolkit, Frits notes that trying to appeal to two very different audiences through only one media channel is unlikely to achieve the desired result. For example, the climate change community and the protected areas community each have a different set of knowledge, attitudes and beliefs. Communication analysis in advance can save money. Additional observations from Frits's blog posts are as follows:
What can be done with a big publication that already exists?

  • Use the preface as an instrument for an e-campaign to all Commission members and ask them to send it to the relevant policy makers in their country.
  • Publish photos of Climate Change Summit participants with testimonials of the main things they had learned.
  • Publish photos on the Commission website illustrating examples of mitigation and adaptation in protected areas, each with a clear subtitle by topic.

What can be done with people already motivated and engaged?

  • A testimonial from a credible source can enhance the acceptance of a proposition, or the findings of research. The prefeace by Lord Nicholas Stern in the WCPA Study 'Natural Solutions, Protected Areas helping people cope with climate change' definitely fulfills that role. In about 400 words the findings of the research are summarized in almost plain talk. Two messages: protected areas help mitigate and adapt to climate change. Policy makers should translate that positive role into policy and funding mechanisms. Lord Stern is an opinion leader and also an influential who can develop word-of-mouth referral channels to build a case for protected areas. He can do more than just lend his name to the preface. By devoting extra time and effort, and supplying the right tools and support, he could become an active ambassador.
  • In long term, use more personal communication, e.g. joint working groups with Climate Change experts or other groups.


Work area: 
Protected Areas
Protected Areas
Climate Change
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