Public Awareness Enhancement

The need for public awareness and education on climate change and environmental issues is now more acute than ever, with many people feeling uncertain and intimidated by the pace of global warming. However, there is a very positive step forward when it comes to creating a ‘green’ public awareness campaign, whereby the need for global change action is emphasized through the utilisation of different marketing strategies. One such strategy is to build up a network of like-minded people who can provide leadership on the need for change, and who can disseminate information on the importance of acting on the matter. Such individuals can be made up of volunteers from a range of environmental organizations and groups, including local governments.

It is important for any such public awareness enhancement project to be supported by a range of experts. This would ensure that a public awareness program is made up of elements that have been put together with a well thought out plan of action. With the right people in place, it is possible to significantly enhance the effectiveness of a climate change awareness campaign. When it comes to forming a ‘green’ public participation team, here are some of the individuals and groups that can provide their expertise and help with a climate change awareness campaign:

* Organisers – the leaders of a community service program or an environmental organization. They can offer their experience and know how to effectively run a public awareness enhancement program. In addition, they can give useful advice on what types of strategies are likely to yield the best results. It might be helpful for a group to consider running a public lecture in their area. For instance, an event focusing on the impact of fossil fuels on the environment, could attract a large audience. The chance to talk about the subject in a setting with a large audience may also hold great influence.

* Lecturers – these are typically from an academic background and are usually affiliated with an organic movement. An environmental education consultant might be able to assist a lecturer in creating an informative talk, or providing information and support on other types of sustainability issues. A lecturer might conduct a public lecture on the topic of climate change. If this is done at a time when major global warming issues are dominating the news, it could have enormous resonance. Such a public lecture could create a media sensation and spread the awareness of environmental issues to a much larger audience.

* Environmental information professionals – often the same professionals who advise on sustainability issues, they are well placed to train participants on the various aspects of environmental issues. They can provide information on why the impact of climate change is such a serious problem. They can also provide guidelines for making sustainable behaviours more popular. Finally, they can provide guidelines on public participation. These professionals can tailor everything from an actual field trip to an information day, to build a group of citizens who care about climate change.

* Decision-makers – the people most responsible for making informed decisions about tackling climate change, are the politicians. These individuals must be made aware of the dangers of not taking action. Public discussions must include questions about what impacts their actions will have on the environment. They must be made aware of the sources of greenhouse effect gases. This will require them to do some research themselves and understand what is being said. In a way this also builds public awareness, as they must be made aware of the fact that there is a link between their behaviour and the greenhouse effect gases emissions.

* Decision-makers themselves – this is the last category that should not be ignored. The people making strategic decisions about environmental policy need to be made aware of the importance of this issue. They need to be told what their impact will be on the environment if they do not act. It would be wise to make public announcements along with reports that give a detailed description of the expected outcome. Public meetings can also be an effective form of awareness promotion.

This is not all that can be done to build public awareness, but it is certainly a good place to start. There is however an additional dimension that I have found to be useful in my role as a Climate Change communication specialist. Through a combination of public awareness and in-depth communications with decision-makers, I have been able to successfully build trust and deliver clear messages on climate change to target publics. My clients have relented considerably and many have already acted on the recommendations I have made, and more will do so as the need arises.