Meaningful and lasting public engagement is key to tackling climate change. ‘Engagement’ is more than just informing people: it requires actively involving them. Everyone has a right to understand the causes, impacts and solutions of climate change.
For society to achieve the changes required to tackle climate change, we need to understand climate change in terms of our own values, our own concerns and see ourselves in the story of collective change.
For this award we were looking for projects that listen, start a conversation, empower, and enable people to talk and take action. We were particularly keen to hear about projects that have engaged new audiences, beyond the ‘usual suspects,’ in innovative ways. Projects needed to be able to demonstrate that they have generated a shift in attitudes and empowered ongoing engagement with climate change. We were open to any audience, media, scale and format.
Whom were we inviting to apply? Anybody from around the world who has carried out a project aiming to increase public engagement with climate change within the last three years. It could be a project or outreach event designed and delivered by an individual, a community organisation, or a larger organisation. Applicants needed to be over the age of 18.
Winner: Mwelwa Musonko
Mwelwa Musonko is a 27 year old Zambian comic book illustrator. His comic series The Fifth Element tells the story of female hero Quintessa, whose goal is to fight climate change. In Zambia, where the reading culture is very poor, these comic books help people engage with the complex issue. Mwelwa visits schools across the country using comic books as an entry point to talk about climate change, accompanied by a partner dressed up as Quintessa. The books are distributed for free (4500 copies printed and 5000 downloads so far). Mwelwa has created three issues so far, with a goal of producing a total of 12 within the next three years. Readers are encouraged to plant trees to win prizes associated with the comic book.
Runners-up: Ed Hawkins & Chantal Bilodeau
Prof Ed Hawkins is a Professor of climate science in the National Centre for Atmospheric Science at the University of Reading’s Department of Meteorology. His Warming Stripes illustrate climate change simply and in a stark and visually compelling way and start conversations about climate change amongst diverse audiences. They have been seen and discussed by millions of people worldwide.
Chantal Bilodeau created Climate Change Theatre Action, using theatre to bring communities together and encourage them to take local and global action on climate. Playwrights representing every inhabited continent write short plays about an aspect of climate change. These plays are freely available to collaborators worldwide, who are encouraged to design their event to reflect their own aesthetic and community.
Many thanks to our judging panel: Hoda Baraka (Chief Communications Officer for 350.org), Gitika Bhardwaj (Editor at Chatham House), David Saddington (Senior Policy Advisor at BEIS) and George Marshall (Director of Projects at Climate Outreach).
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