Funders supporting Public Engagement mobilise people by changing their values, behaviours and political decisions. In the area of climate change, this relates to sustainable consumption patterns and change in the legislative and economic context of these patterns; neither are possible without the participation and acceptance of people. Main areas of funding Public Engagement are: campaigns that aim for large-scale public communication and buy-in; public deliberation processes to establish citizen perspectives on policy priorities; and local community-based initiatives that raise awareness and design calls to action (Padmanabhan and Rose 2021).
- The fight against climate change is currently dominated by political inaction. Funders can respond by fostering a public call for action. Online tools such as the Climate Action Tracker raise awareness about the gap between the globally agreed 1.5°C target and governments’ inaction. Funding Public Engagement, in this sense, can help to build a “collective public mandate for climate policy” (Padmanabhan and Rose 2021), which enables politicians to act more decisively.
- Funders can appeal to change consumption choices in areas such as nutrition, energy, or transport. To avoid polarisation, it is key to focus Public Engagement on the benefits of alternative behaviours not just for the climate but for peoples’ lives. One option is to fund billboards and media campaigns that draw attention to, for example, the health benefits of cycling and improved air quality through the use of public transport.
- There is no such thing as the public. Hence, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for effective Public Engagement. Especially those groups that do not yet support climate action need to be engaged more. Funders should therefore avoid repeating long-standing engagement methods and, instead, try out new formats of engagement to mobilise new audiences.
Padmanabhan, Chandrima; Rose, Katie (2021): Public Engagement on Climate Change. A Case Study Compendium. Centre for Public Impact; Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch). Available online at https://www.centreforpublicimpact.org/assets/documents/cpi-cgf-public-engagement-climate-change-case-studies.pdf, checked on 8/9/2022.