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A climate school in Indramayu and a green community in Bogor have a common goal. They want to create awareness among people about climate change and induce individuals to do something about it. But the two bodies do not share the same communication strategy.
The SLI (Sekolah Lapang Iklim, Climate Field School) was established in Indramayu, West Java in 2002. It is the brainchild of Bogor Institute of Agricultural (IPB) agroclimatology scientist, Rizaldi Boer. Boer is executive director of the IPB’s Center for Climate Risk and Opportunity Management.
Now, under the auspices of the Agriculture Ministry, the SLI is helping farmers to use information from the state-run weather agency, the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), to detect changing weather patterns in order to reduce the risk of crop failure. If the dry season is longer than normal, for instance, farmers should not plant rice due to the lack of water; instead, they should switch to non-staple food crops like soybeans, peanuts and cassava. In this way, the farmers adapt to the weather.
Meanwhile, in the village of Cisalopa, south of Bogor in West Java, the Komunitas Greena, founded by high-energy IPB graduate Nina Nuraniyah, organizes trainings to reduce global warming and create jobs for local women and youth. The women make exquisite bags, purses and pencil boxes from otherwise discarded food wrappers, while the young people are employed to sell at nearby schools ice cream made from locally-grown ubi ungu (purple edible sweet-potato-like tubers). Their activities amount to climate mitigation at the local level.
Communicating the climate message to different people may require different strategies, especially if you want people to go beyond awareness. The common objective for all people would be awareness, understanding what climate change is and what impact it has.
But different people may have other goals. The other goal for the farmers is how to minimize the risk of crop failure. For community women and youth, the accompanying goal would be to create income-generation opportunities. For public officials, one goal would be the design of regulations appropriate to local climate conditions. Another goal would be building capacity, for instance, in how to reduce carbon emissions.
Each stakeholder would have to design their own climate communication strategy tailored to their felt needs. The party concerned would state its goal, the strategy to achieve it, and the activities to realize the strategy. For journalists, for example, the goal would be how to report on climate change effectively. The strategy could be twin-track. Track one would be to enrich the base knowledge of journalists on climate change. Track two would enhance their skills in credible and comprehensive reporting on the subject matter.
The activities to put substance to the strategy could be, for track one, the holding of briefings from climate change experts from forestry governance and policymaking to gender concerns. For track two, workshops could be held on effective writing with possible field trips to cultivate reporting competence.
The daunting task of drafting a national communication strategy on climate change would be handed to Indonesia’s National Council on Climate Change (DNPI). It has to comply with Article 6 on education, training and public awareness of the 1994 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Each interested party would have its own needs that would require a different approach.
These climate actors include national government officials, local authorities and service chiefs, politicians, businesspeople, teachers and students, communities including people living in forests, women, youth, children, NGOs, scientists and researchers, media sources including social network users, international organizations, donors and leaders (political, private sector, community and religious leaders).
No one-size-fits-all for a climate communication strategy. For sure, the DNPI will have to consider the individual needs of the different stakeholders in drafting a national climate communication strategy.
The DNPI, with the national focal point on Article 6, has submitted to the UNFCCC secretariat Indonesia’s views on implementing an amended Article 6. One pertinent point it made was that “in Indonesia, local wisdom, traditional values and religion have the potential to act as mediums to deliver the climate-change message”. The DNPI says it is preparing a national plan of action on Article 6, Indonesia’s probable communication strategy on climate change.
The bottom line for a climate communication strategy is an intended outcome common for all stakeholders: Behavioral change. People must change their behavior before the climate changes their lives for the worse.
The writer teaches journalism at the Dr. Soetomo Press Institute (LPDS), Jakarta.