Walk along the dusty paths and through the boggy marshes of Kazungula in Zambia and you get a sense of the reality of climate change. In a district a few hours’ drive from Livingstone, the extreme temperatures, prolonged droughts and increased floods forecast by scientists and academics are increasingly becoming a reality.
Thankfully people’s resilience, ingenuity and determination is just as real. And as the Communications Officer for the Climate Investment Funds for the past three-and-a-half years, I’ve been inspired by the climate action I’ve seen and the stories I’ve heard. And I’ve been privileged with the opportunity to help tell those stories.
So as I wrap up here at the CIF, I thought it was a good opportunity to share some reflections from my time in the role.
When I joined the CIF back in January 2014, we worked with a group of 48 pilot countries. These days, we work with a group of 72. And what a group they are – our bi-annual Trust Fund Committee meetings could often feel like six-dozen field trips in one week as countries shared their insights and opinions. Our pilot country meetings were another opportunity to learn about context and content and I’ll miss these knowledge exchanges and the window they gave me into why our work at the CIF matters so much.
But the CIF hasn’t just grown; it has grown up. In my early days, the CIF blogs, features and reports I wrote were scattered with terms like ‘aims to’, ‘plans to’ and ‘will.’ Now, there’s much more use of ‘is’, ‘does’ and ‘continues to.’ The CIF has matured and so have our projects.
If, as George Bernard Shaw once said, Great Britain and the United States are two nations divided by a common language, then climate change is now an issue united by many languages. I was a campaigner before joining the CIF so much of the language I used for climate communications was around activism.
Advocacy remains a key component. I’ve also been struck by how the framing of climate action has evolved. Religious leaders have invoked the moral and ethical element of our stewardship of the planet. Businesses now see and speak about the economic opportunity of renewables and the potential for green jobs and sustainable growth. And health advocates talk of the importance of clean air and clean water.
There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to communicating climate change. My time in this role has made clear that we need a range of messages for the range of audiences we speak with—from those already feeling the impacts to those with the power and the resources to invest in solutions.
This job has given me the chance to speak to everyone from government officials, indigenous communities, business leaders, policy experts, environmental journalists, faith groups, entrepreneurs, advocates, foresters, farmers – and many more! And if I have one big takeaway from my time working on climate, I think it’s that nothing ever happens because of one person.
The CIF family includes the public sector, the private sector, civil society, indigenous peoples and local communities. They’ve all brought their experience and expertise to the table. And they are all affected by the issue and can be key parts of the solution.
They’ve also had great stories and I’ve been lucky enough to help tell them. And I look forward to watching the CIF continue to adapt, evolve and flourish.