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Climate Visuals in 2017: A retrospective

By Adam Corner on December 18, 2017

At about this time last year (December, 2016) we received some good news: the Danish KR Foundation had agreed to support our Climate Visuals programme, and help us work towards our ambitious aim of catalysing a new visual language for climate change.

Villagers pray for their family members at a flooded public cemetery due to rising sea levels. When they die they are buried in the land submerged by the rising sea.

One year on, and there is more need than ever to shift the tired and stale visual discourse on climate change, to something more diverse, engaging and compelling (and which can reach beyond the usual suspects on this crucial and urgent human issue).

For the third year in a row, our analysis of dominant imagery around the UN climate conference has found that most media outlets are failing to tell the climate story in an engaging way, at a key moment in the climate calendar.

But if there is still a lot to be done, we’ve also made some significant progress in 2017. Here’s a flavour of it:

Earlier in the year, we held two Masterclass events (in London and Salzburg), with the first held at the prestigious Thomson Reuters Foundation. We brought together leading thinkers, photographers, writers and campaigners to learn about the 7 principles behind the Climate Visuals programme, and hear from inspiring guest speakers. In 2018 we’ll be bringing the Climate Visuals Masterclasses to Amsterdam, and the US and Canada.

We’ve developed a series of collaborations with leading photographic agencies from across the world, including laif, Aurora, and (coming soon) Panos. Each collaboration has resulted in a set of handpicked new images – all illustrating the Climate Visuals principles – provided by the partner agencies. The Climate Visuals library now has more than 500 images for communicators and campaigners to browse and use in their work.

Working with the leading Christian campaigning organisation Tearfund, we have helped to shape and guide their climate campaigns. As well as training nearly 50 of their staff on the Climate Visuals approach, we have provided them with imagery and advice that’s now reflected in their current and future campaigns on climate change.

We’re working with the World Press Photo Foundation (a global leader in the photography sector) to develop a new Award and competition for climate change in 2018, based on the Climate Visuals principles – more to follow on this very soon.

And last but definitely not least, we’re now in a very positive dialogue with the world’s leading photographic agency, Getty Images, to partner on a global campaign in 2018 to commission and promote a suite of new climate imagery showing climate change ‘right here, right now’ around the world, all guided by the Climate Visuals framework. Can we repeat the success of the Lean In Foundation, working with Getty to radically shift the imagery used to represent women and girls in their stock collections?

Keep an eye on Climate Visuals in 2018 to find out!

2 responses to Climate Visuals in 2017: A retrospective

  1. Hello, I am a photographer, there is anyway to contribute with images?
    Thank you !


By Dr Adam Corner

Adam Corner is a writer and independent researcher who specialises in climate change communication and climate/culture collaborations. Adam worked with Climate Outreach between 2010-2021, helping to build the research team, developing Climate Visuals and Britain Talks Climate, and establishing the centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations (CAST). Adam has published widely on public engagement with climate change, from academic journals and reports for NGOs to media commentary (including for the Guardian and New Scientist). Currently Adam’s work is split between strategic climate communication projects (like the Local Storytelling Exchange), writing and contributing to reports, and developing the climate communication evidence base into music and cultural spaces.

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