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FEATURE: CDKN seeks your ideas on how to communicate effectively on climate change

This week, CDKN launches Communicating climate change: A practitioner’s guide as a draft for discussion – and invites readers to share their experiences of communicating climate change in developing countries. Readers’ stories and suggestions will be incorporated into a future edition, to be produced in 2019-20.

The guide shares tips for communicating climate change effectively, drawn from CDKN’s experience in South Asia and Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean. It is a guide by practitioners for practitioners and is intended for communications officers, and other champions of climate action, who are working nationally and locally in developing countries.

This guide is intended to fill a gap in sharing practitioners’ experiences about climate communications in the Global South. A large amount has been written and debated on how best to communicate climate issues in industrialised countries with a view to both influencing policy debates and changing broader public awareness and behaviour. However, this considerable literature is overwhelmingly ‘Northern’ – focusing principally on convincing a sceptical or apathetic public in North America, Europe or Australasia.

The guide is written by CDKN’s Knowledge Management and Communications staff, who have been working since 2010 to raise awareness of:

  • the impacts of climate change on poverty and development;
  • the potential for building resilience to climate change; and
  • the opportunities of embracing a low-emission economy.

The team’s experience spans dozens of low- and middle-income countries.

The climate communicators with whom CDKN has worked in these countries, and their ultimate audiences, don’t need to be convinced that climate change is happening. They see the evidence before their eyes: in searing heatwaves and increasing numbers of heat-related illnesses and death; in failing and flooded food crops, and inundated coastal zones.

What these audiences also need is to ‘make sense’ of what they are seeing: to understand their lived experience in scientific context, to know what the future climate might hold, and decide what they should do about it.

This guide is also geared toward what it takes to convince people to take climate action now, not tomorrow. The reality is that climate change jostles for people’s attention with many competing and seemingly more urgent – or entertaining – stories. It takes ingenuity to bump climate change to the top of the agenda and ultimately give it the political and public focus it deserves.

Invitation to share your experience

This initial version of the guide aims to stimulate discussion about what works well. It also shares our experiences on which communications strategies to avoid, or approach with caution, and why.

Readers are invited to get in touch to share their tactics, and critique CDKN’s ideas.

CDKN’s communcations team will consider reader contributions for inclusion in a future, expanded version of the guide. Please write to us at:

Download the guide: Communicating climate change – A practitioner’s guide.



Image: credit ASSAR.

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