Tweet-by-tweet: COP17 Climate Communications Day

What happens when 150 climate-change communicators get together to talk about their craft?

We found out when Internews’ Earth Journalism Network and the International Institute for Environment and Development organised the first Climate Communications Day (full programme here) as a side event at the UN climate change conference in Durban, South Africa.

What follows is an annotated summary of the day as reported by Twitter users. It is only a partial record, so if you were there please add your own thoughts in the comments — and if you were not, please also have your say down below.

The first plenary started with a video message from Randy Olson (@RandyO_HeadDodo), the scientist-turned-film-maker and author of Don’t Be Such A Scientist.

Here’s the clip of Randy’s video message, which set the tone for the discussion that followed.

On the plenary panel were Sergio Abranches (@abranches and @Ecopolity) of the Ecopolitica institute in Brazil; Obinna Anyadike, an editor at IRIN News (@irinnews) in South Africa; Yolandi Groenewald (@YolandiG), a journalist at City Press newspaper in South Africa; Haili Cao, a reporter with Caixin Media in China; and Joydeep Gupta (@joydeepgupta), a journalist with the IANS news agency and Third Pole Project, India.

The moderator was Marina Joubert (@marinajoubert) of Southern Science, in South Africa, and here are the tweets.

A couple of days later Armsfree wrote this article on communicating climate change without the clutter.

I was chairing the second plenary, so ceased tweeting for that session. Joining me on the panel were Kelly Rigg (@kellyrigg), executive director of the Global Campaign for Climate Action (TckTckTck); Chris Librie of HP (@HPCorp); Indi McLymont-Lafayette of Panos Caribbean (@PanosCaribbean) in Jamaica, David McCauley of the Asian Development Bank and Wambi Michael, a journalist with the Uganda Radio Network. Here we are…

Indi has used many approaches to communicate about climate change in Jamaica. One of her most recent was to produce this music video. Check it out.

After lunch we split into three breakout sessions. No-one tweeted from the first as it was clearly too frenetic — and judging from the noise coming through the wall into the room I was in — far too much fun. It was the session on games.

Pablo Suarez of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre, and Janot Mendler de Suarez of the Boston University Pardee Center explained why games can be useful tools for communicating climate change. They then ran a participatory game, similar to the one shown in this clip.

The second breakout session was a guided tour of recent movies aimed at raising awareness about climate change, from An Inconvenient Truth and 11th Hour to Sizzle, The Age of Stupid and Home. Brief clips were shown of each and participants put on their critical hats to offer reviews of the movies they’ve seen,  and advice for future efforts.

Jacqueline Frank, Regional Project Coordinator for Media Capacity Building with the UNDP Africa Adaptation Programme was the tour guide.

Blogger Rouxnette Meiring (@rouxnettem) has some more detailed notes from the session on movies, and the rest of the day here.

The session in the third room had a focus on faith. Some of the world’s best communicators, with the biggest and most open audiences, are religious leaders. So what are they saying about climate change and is there scope for scientific and religious worldviews to come together and sing from the same hymn sheet?

On the panel were Lic. Elias Crisostomo Abramides (World Council of Churches); Bishop Geoff Davies (Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute); His Eminence Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga (President of Caritas Internationalis); Rabbi Hillel Avidan. David LePage (@DavidLePageZA) of  the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute moderated the discussion.

You can read a bit more about what Bishop Geoff Davies and Rabbi Hillel Avidan said in this session in my recent post Time for faith in our environment.

After a short break, it was time for another set of breakout sessions.

In the Dragon’s Den, three researchers from the IDRC-DFID Climate Change Adaptation in Africa (@MaryEONeill) programme attempted to convince three dragons (media editors) that their stories were worth covering.

The dragons — journalists Joydeep Gupta, Tim Williams and Laurie Goering (@alertnetclimate) — showed what the media really wants in terms of news, stories and human interest.

For those pitching their stories, ingenuity and inspiration would be critical. Those braving the Dragons’ Den were: Dr Abdellatif Khattabi (on preparing for sea level rise on Morocco’s northern coast); Dr Maria Onyango (on harnessing indigenous climate forecasting knowledge) and Dr Paul Mapfumo of University of Zimbabwe (on protecting soils to increase smallholder resilience).

Liz Carlile (@lizcarlile), director of communications at the International Institute for Environment and Development (@IIED), moderated this session.

Again, check out the blog post from Rouxnette Meiring (@rouxnettem), which has some more detailed notes from the Dragon’s Den.

By the time of the final plenary, most of those tweeting had run out of credit.

At 5pm we had to bring the day to a close. You can read more about it in these articles at Technorati, PlanetChange and — for readers of Chinese — the Taiwan Environmental Information Center. IIED’s Liz Carlile posted a vlog about the day here.

So that’s it — a selection of snapshots of what was a fascinating and fun day. Whether you were there or not, I’d like to hear from you about your own thoughts about what we discussed that day in Durban.

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