How to communicate global challenges?


A team of students from COM 3102 and 3103 (International Communication) have taken on a challenge by Global Challenges Action Network (GloCha). They are to think about, and visualize, communication and marketing strategies for GloCha’s globally broadcasted TV edutainment and fundraising show on youth and global challenges, happening in the UN climate change meeting at COP22 in Marrakesh, Nov 2016.

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Some basic premises

The United Nations and the European Union organized a meeting in April 2016 to discuss how to communicate big global issues, such as the new Sustainable Development Goals, to the general public. Here are some take-aways:


In the meeting, that gathered together UN representatives, advertisement and marketing professionals, non-profits, and other experts, several issues emerged:

  • Information is not communication. Just stating the facts doesn’t mean you truly reach your audiences.
  • Action is emotional. We need to feel connection and ownership to the issue to participate.
  • Language matters. The UN, for instance, uses plenty of jargon. So, for instance, translate this:

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To this:

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  • Climate change means something different for different stakeholders — be it economic consequences, political challenges, concrete living environment… Address them.
  • Communication campaigns need to partnerships with local actors (corporations, civic groups, and/or the media).
  • Use influencers — opinion leaders for the ripple effect.
  • Youth need to be equal partners in global action and awareness NOW (no old cliches about “decision-makers of the future”.
  • Communication campaigns should utilize “human centered design” (a concept that COM 3103 has examined…)

Some resources (by COM 3102&3103)


Great campaigns:

  • An Inconvenient Truth: The most successful piece of awareness around climate change. Al Gore’s film pushed the topic of climate change to the forefront behind real scientific data that shows the effects of the human footprint on the environment. This documentary and the case it presents are still in the heart of the conversation surrounding climate change.
  • Global Citizens Festival: The global citizens festival is a huge concert in Central Park focused on the SDG’s and youth engagement. The festival does this through a highly attractive event that includes speakers on issues and facts to show to the audience. They increase awareness through their ticket lottery system, everyone can increase their chances by sharing facts to their social media on the different issues the event highlights.
  • Do Something: is an organization that is based in spreading awareness about issues by providing opportunities for individuals to be involved with direct service. The organization makes it very easy to go from talk and thought to action and engagement. Whether an individual has a day to serve or just an hour to browse the site the organization provides an immersive experience into issues that lead to an opportunity for already set up service, making it easier for individuals to take action.
  • Here is a campaign for (RED), which is an organization focused on reducing HIV/AIDS and creating an HIV/AIDS free future. The campaign features a plethora of A-list celebrities which I believe is a great marketing technique to draw awareness and buzz.
  •  Here is a video that is a part of a series called “Years of Living Dangerously: Why I Care.” The series speaks with celebrities who care about climate change and they speak with individuals in affected areas.
  • Doctors Without Borders:
    This is probably one of the most heart-breaking yet effective campaigns I’ve ever seen. For this campaign, Doctors Without Borders wanted to raise awareness of the number of deaths due to lack of nutrition. The video goes into it deeper because I don’t want to give too much away. It’s a great idea though, putting the problem right in front of people so it can’t be ignored.
  • Humans of New York:
    The success of this campaign has to give credit to the large following that HONY has but it also goes to people’s belief in this one child’s story about education, and more importantly, his principal. When I first saw this photo, I thought it was another great story, pressed like, and moved on. In a few weeks however, a large campaign had grown towards bettering the school due to the lack of funding for NYC public schools in general. People from all over the world started donating and let’s just say, they were able to surpass their original goal.


Facts – Resources:

  • Here is the link to NASA’s website dedicated to global climate change. This is a great, all-encompassing resource that features evidence, causes, effects, scientific consensus, and much more.  
  • Here is a link to a report from the UN on Youth and Climate Change. These are some of the efforts the UN has already made to include young adults in the conversation on climate change, and how successful those have been in the past.
  • Here is a pamphlet from the UN, sponsored by the EU and Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, regarding youth efforts around the world regarding climate change.
  • The History of Climate Change Negotiations:

I think is a cute video and it’s visually understandable for anyone who doesn’t know much about climate change. These types of videos, in my experience at least, helps to get people interested in a topic. I wouldn’t use it for a room full of scientists but for college and high school students who are hearing about climate change for the first time, I’d highly recommend this.

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GloCha is a part of a larger, UN accredited civil society organization called IAAI, headquartered in Klagenfurt/Austria (International Association for the Advancement of Innovative Approaches to Global Challenges).  Together with several UN and other partners, GloCha is planning a globally broadcasted TV edutainment and fundraising show on youth and global challenges in the context of COP22 in Marrakesh, Nov 2016.

Before that, they present their ideas and other input to the forthcoming United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Article 6 dialogue in Bonn in May 2016.

GloCha wants advise from young communication experts, you. They need suggestions, insights, ideas — big and small — for a comprehensive communications strategy for the edutainment/fundraising show, including, but not limited to:

  • Celebrity engagement and activities before-during-after the show;
  • Some pilot concepts and activities for globally feasible crowdfunding campaigns related to the show (and ultimately, related to the ways to engage youth in SDGs);
  • Anything else you think would be successful, impactful, relevant.