For the Initiative on Communication and Sustainability to Communicate the Role of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities in Protecting Forests and Mitigating Climate Change

Lead PI: Dale Willman

Unit Affiliation: Initiative on Communication and Sustainability

September 2021 - August 2022
Project Type: Research Outreach

DESCRIPTION: Warming temperatures, increased disease risks, accelerating biodiversity loss: the consequences of humanity's greenhouse gas emissions and expanded environmental footprint have been clear for decades. Our climate is changing, and the main cause is human combustion of fossil fuels. Emissions and temperatures continue to rise, tropical forests continue to fall, and a pandemic threatens lives and livelihoods across the globe. There is an urgent need to better equip journalists, citizens, and decision makers with information and tools to enhance resilience and connect communities of experts with each other to accelerate progress to solutions.

The Columbia Climate School's Initiative on Communication and Sustainability works to improve media and community communication impact around urgent climate, resilience and sustainability goals. The initiative was established two years ago as a part of the Earth Institute by former New York Times journalist Andy Revkin. The world's premier center for research focused on climate change, the Institute was founded in 1995 to advance the basic understanding of earth science and to apply that knowledge to decisions made by governments and businesses around the world.

Through training, convening and outreach our initiative expands that approach further, helping scientists, journalists, educators, students and citizens around the world share expertise to speed progress toward a better relationship between our species, our planet and each other. A core focus is boosting the capacity for effective communication in under-represented communities and regions where sustainability challenges and environmental threats are greatest and practitioners have scant resources.

The Initiative spreads and deepens communication and media progress around critical issues from the "infodemic" and vaccine hesitancy to environmental, energy and climate opportunities and challenges, with a sustained focus on indigenous communities from Guyana to West Kalimantan to the Arctic.

The Resilience Media Project has connected more than 2,000 journalists around the world with the scientific expertise and data needed to center stories on climate and environmental risk reduction and climate solutions. Resulting insights have then been shared with wider audiences through Andy Revkin's groundbreaking Sustain What webcasts, which have garnered more than 700,000 viewers across four social media platforms in just the first 200 shows.