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Communications- Creating Mass Behavioural Change @ World Climate Summit

December 5, 2010

Hot off the press! 😀

Introduction: Lack of information is a market failure that needs to be resolved. Consensus is not a pre-requisite for industries to drive change, we just need leaders within that industry to lead change.


Becky Anderson (facilitator)

Seth Farbman

Ted Turner

Emilio Azcarraga

Philippe Cousteau

Main question of the day: What inspires the public to act?

(Writer’s note: Speakers were not quoted verbatim. Instead, ideas were summarized and grouped as follows)

What does not:

  1. Negative messaging, fear

 Seth: Negative messaging is not helpful. Fear does not motivate people. Negative messaging gives them permission to say “Too bad, I’ll leave it for someone else.”

 2. Complicated messages

Kelly: This creates most chance to be misheard, misunderstood.

 What does:

1. Optimism: offering solutions instead of harping on problems

 Seth: Position message as hope. People were concerned about jobs then (@ Copenhagen), messages shouldn’t have been couched with the aim of instilling fear.

 Kelly: Emphasize on solutions. Show that businesses and people are going on with it, even if the political arena isn’t.

2. Broadening the scope of climate change

With reference to climate change deniers, Phillipe Cousteau mentioned that there is a need to expand issues to encompass issues that resonate with people such as health and security. An analogy provided was that if a house was on fire, many people would differ in the sources of the fire but the implications are widely felt.

 3. Reaching out to a broader target audience

 Kelly:  Preach beyond your traditional constituencies. Dialogues with people who already know about climate change lead to closed loops. Speak to them on the basis of their values.

Philippe: One of the group constituencies that we overlook is about young people who are the leaders of tomorrow. They don’t quite the respect and position that they deserve. They are already sold to this dynamic. We need to put the power back in the hands of the public. Empower people. Youth have tremendous power, it is the reason why companies sell to them- they have large consumer power.

 4. Rewards

 People are driven by offerings. Instead of prescribing values, aim to change behaviour first. Studies have shown that values shift accordingly when behaviour undergo changes.

 Seth: Reward people who practice environmentally-friendly habits. Provide solutions and let them take you along. Not vice versa. Positive reinforcement helps make people feel good about saving the environment

5. Make it a norm

Seth :There are hard core sceptics, but don’t ignore the fat middle. Move people to the norm. For example, placing a sign at hotels and inviting guests to avoid using multiple towels works less effectively than explicitly stating that “70% of people already do this.” People want to join the middle. Media’s job is not make present solutions self-evident.

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