Congratulations to our winners and nominees!
"When I arrived, I was so tired, but when I left, my batteries were fully recharged! Thank you for that dose of inspiration," said one of our guests at our Awards ceremony on 7 November 2019.
It’s our 15th anniversary this year and we couldn’t think of a better way to mark the occasion than by celebrating not just our achievements, but also some of the amazing work delivered by people around the world who are driving public engagement with climate change.
Watch a 5 minute highlights video from the evening and download the awards programme below (the recording of the full event is also available here)
Our four award categories championed climate communications work from around the world that helps us to share, understand, show and communicate climate change.
The awards for Climate Change Public Engagement, Climate Communications Research and Climate Visuals Photography were be assessed by an expert judging panel, and the winner of each of these categories received a £1000 cash prize.
The award for Climate Change Communicator of the Year was put to a public vote and the winner gained the prestige of winning the people's vote.
Climate Change Public Engagement Award
Meaningful and lasting public engagement is key to tackling climate change. ‘Engagement’ is more than just informing people: it requires actively involving them. 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 demonstrate that they had generated a shift in attitudes and empowered ongoing engagement with climate change.
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).
Climate Communications Research Award
Given the urgency and scale of the challenge, the way we communicate about climate change has to be based on the best available evidence of what works - and doesn’t work. In this category, we were looking for key research studies that have developed fresh understanding and insights on climate change communication.
We wanted to hear about innovative research studies that seek to answer questions about how to best engage the public in a meaningful way with climate change. We also wanted to showcase upcoming talent in this research area, and so the applications were open to Early Career Researchers only. Topics could include areas such as reaching new audiences, testing and developing frames and narratives, or developing understanding around key concepts in climate change communication.
Winner: Chloe Lucas
Dr Chloe Lucas is a Research Fellow at the University of Tasmania, Australia. Her PhD explored how climate change has become socially polarising. Her aim was to identify opportunities for building respectful and empathetic relationships between people who think differently about climate change. Chloe’s research revealed the potential for a climate politics that emphasises commonality across diverse life concerns. Her study shows that people who are unconcerned about climate change cannot be assumed to be less well informed, or less dedicated to living a moral life than those who are concerned. This work reveals that thoughtful dialogue between groups with divergent understandings of climate change can create opportunities for mutual learning, broader democratic support for policy responses and more diverse strategies of public communication.
Runners up: Merryn Thomas and Alexandria Herr
Dr Merryn Thomas is an interdisciplinary researcher based at Cardiff University’s Understanding Risk Group. Her PhD explored perceptions of sea-level change on the Severn Estuary, and found a number of differences between expert and public understandings, alongside barriers to engagement. She therefore initiated SeaChange, a photographic exhibition and outreach event designed to increase awareness and engagement.
Alexandria Herr is a Ph.D. student at UCLA. Her study focuses on the role of deadlines in climate communication. Following the IPCC’s 1.5 ̊ report, media, politicians and youth activists used the 2030 deadline as a rhetorical tool to convey climate risk. This study found that deadlines do not produce significantly different audience responses compared to non-deadline narratives in terms of affect, risk-perception, or pro-environmental behavioral change.
Judges for the Climate Communications Research Award
Climate Visuals Photography Award
The images that define climate change shape the way it is understood and acted upon. But polar bears, melting ice and arrays of smoke stacks don’t convey the urgent human stories at the heart of the issue. Based on international social research, Climate Visuals provides seven principles for a more diverse, relatable and compelling visual language for climate change.
In this category, we were looking to celebrate the work of photographers - amateur or professional - who have successfully engaged audiences with climate change and its causes, impacts, and/or solutions.
The images shortlisted by our judging panel were featured in The Guardian.
Winner: Ann Johansson
Ann Johansson is an award-winning documentary photographer with a focus on visually connecting climate change causes, effects, impacts and solutions globally. Ann’s goal is to make all aspects of climate change more relatable on a personal level. She has 20 years of experience working as a freelance photojournalist for publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Le Monde and Der Spiegel and her photographs have been exhibited around the world. Ann was born in Göteborg, Sweden and is based in Los Angeles.
Ann’s shortlisted photograph shows Shohida Begum lit by a solar powered lantern she purchased. Shohida’s home in a poor neighborhood of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India is off the electricity grid.
Runners-up: Ricardo Funari and Siegfried Modola
Ricardo Funari is a Brazilian photojournalist working to create and distribute images documenting issues of social justice. His shortlisted photograph shows a family of drought refugees hitchhiking in the semiarid region of northeastern Brazil known as Sertao, trying to escape from extreme poverty and dreaming of a better life in the distant Sao Paulo megalopolis
Siegfried Modola is an Italian/British photojournalist and documentary photographer. His shortlisted photograph shows a Mongolian mother, Obgerel, crying as she holds her baby daughter Suikhan in a pediatric emergency unit. Suikan suffers from a respiratory illness in one of the most polluted capital cities in the world, Ulaanbaatar.
Many thanks to our judging panel: Nicole Itano (Executive Director, tve); Kirsten Kidd (Picture Editor, The Economist), Eric Hilaire (Picture Editor, The Guardian) and Toby Smith (Climate Visuals Lead, Climate Outreach).
Climate Change Communicator of the Year - People’s Choice Award
This is a people’s vote! We wanted to know who you thought should be recognised for their contribution to engaging people with climate change - someone in the public sphere in the past year, communicating climate change with the public in a way that really stood out.
In the first stage of voting, we accepted nominations from the public. The Climate Outreach team then decided on a shortlist of three nominees which went back to the public vote, and the nominee with the most votes won.
Winners: Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner and Aka Niviâna
Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner and Aka Niviâna are poets and activists from communities experiencing the impacts of climate change. Kathy is a writer and performer of Marshall Islander ancestry, and co-founded the non-profit Jo-Jikum, dedicated to empowering Marshallese youth to seek solutions to climate change and other environmental impacts threatening their home island. Aka is from Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland) and started doing poetry with a wish to create nuanced conversations about not only climate change, but also colonialism and indigenous peoples rights. Together, they connected their realities of melting glaciers and rising sea levels in a poetic video called “Rise: From One Island to Another.”
Runners-up: Prof Richard Betts and Greta Thunberg
Prof Richard Betts is a climate scientist specialising in the links between global ecosystems and the water cycle and a lead author with the IPCC. He was appointed MBE for 'services to understanding climate change.” Many of the nominations we received for him highlighted his willingness to talk about climate change with everyone, whatever their views, both offline and online.
Greta Thunberg is a 16 year old Swedish environmental activist Greta who inspired an international climate school strike movement. It led to the biggest climate strike in history in September 2019, with over 4 million people taking part in over 160 countries. Greta goes on strike every Friday, wherever she is, demanding that leaders be held accountable.