The back-story of a paradigm shift in the focus of Conservation Branding,
Marketing, and Strategic Communication.
Winning the hearts and minds of peoples around the world to take action to protect and restore Nature is the role of all conservationists, especially its communicators and educators. We have collectively set the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, requiring a change in strategy in arc of practice needed to achieve the impact that the nations of the world envisioned in Nagoya, Japan. The first, and perhaps the most important target, in my humble opinion, requires building a universal awareness by society to understand and embrace the wide range of biodiversity values - social, ecological, and economic - all necessary to create a culture of intentionality when it comes to conserving Nature.
In 2006, members of the IUCN Commission on Education and Communication (CEC) after analyzing various conservation and demographic trends, began to ask: “How can we change the way that we connect with people across the globe to shift the way they think, communicate, value, and embrace Nature?” For too long, the conservation message had been a negative one – a warning of impending loss. Yet, it has not induced enough change to prevent any of the losses people were warned about.
In 2007, CEC hosted a gathering of thought leaders in strategic communication, change management, conservation psychology, resilience, branding, and social movement theory from around the globe to take a “deep dive” to identify various strategies. One of the key conclusions was that we needed to focus on reconnecting people with Nature, in ways that would inspire them; but first it was vital to reset the way that the conservation message was shaped.
A small expert strategic communications group was established within the CEC Steering Committee headed by Laurie Bennett from Within People (formally Director of Strategy for to begin to look at this issue. This expert group, in partnership with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the IUCN communication team, formulated a new way of thinking about communicating conservation. A report published by Futerra, called Branding Biodiversity, was launched to coincide with the UN's International Year of Biodiversity 2010 in Nagoya. This publication was the underpinning for the simultaneous premier of “Love Not Loss,” a film targeting the conservation communication community to think differently about how it communicates. The film grew out of the partnership of the CEC strategic communication group members including IUCN - CEC, the CBD, WildScreen, and Futerra. The film and its producer, Jeremy Bristow, were nominated for International Green Awards at the Natural History Museum in London.
CEC then began a campaign to have “Love, Not Loss” seen across the globe and has translated it into Arabic, Chinese, French, Hebrew, Spanish. It has been shown to thousands of audiences around the globe over the past five years. CEC went further with this campaign and released, at the World Conservation Congress in 2012, another short video and companion tool kit called “How to tell a Love Story.” Its goal was to expand the campaign’s reach across the conservation community to engage in connecting people with Nature in meaningful and personal ways. With this campaign, CEC started to build bridges to efforts by other organizations that launched simultaneous campaigns based on positive messages of personal connections to Nature.
In 2012, the Commission on Education and Communication (CEC) and the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) met in London with a number of communication experts from different countries and brainstormed specific approaches to engage new audiences in the issue of conservation. A consensus emerged to see how these groups could apply the tenets of “Love Not Loss” and “How to Tell a Love Story” to protected areas around the Globe. At the at the World Conservation Congress in Jeju, the first World National Parks CEOs Forum was convened with 120 leaders signing the Jeju Declaration on National Parks and Protected Areas: Connecting People to Nature. This was a commitment to a global campaign for re-connecting people with nature through national parks and protected areas, expanding on the “Love Not Loss” awareness campaign.
A series of meetings were held between the CEC, the WCPA, and Parks Canada to begin to develop a strategy to implement the Jeju Declaration: Connecting People with Nature. A stream “Inspiring a New Generation (ING)” was launched at the 2014 World Parks Congress in Sydney. A global awareness movement was launched to leverage the lessons learned in developing the “Love Not Loss” campaign and bring together a critical mass of organizations and institutions to Achi Target 1 - implementing biodiversity awareness and action.
In 2015, a North American Summit was held to further refine, at a regional level, a series of action steps for ING specific to North America. Led by the Brandwein Institute, in partnership with CEC and the WCPA, 200 thought leaders identified 10 plus key initiatives to increase awareness of Nature by experiencing parks and protected areas across the continent. At the same time, the IUCN–CEC and WCPA Task force on ING announced a global initiative #NatureforAll, a global campaign to increase awareness of Nature, together with a coalition of partners who represent a variety of sectors, including health, urban, protected areas, art, technology, youth, science, and more. Findings from the North American Summit will be shared at the #NatureforAll pavilion at the IUCN World Conservation Congress (WCC) in Hawaii in September 2016.
The stage is set, conservation communicators around the globe have committed, and the implementation of action is ahead. To be effective in communication campaigns to build biodiversity awareness it’s essential to personalize, humanize, and publicize stories to build a strong love for Nature with intended audience. The Brandwein Institute and its partners invite all conservation communicators to come and share their successes at the #NatureforAll pavilion at the WCC on September 1-6, 2016 where the global movement will be officially launched.
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