Climate Storytellers – Making Your Climate Story Count

Partners: UN Paris Climate Capacity Building Network & CLEAR Environmental 

What makes this project special 

When it comes to the dialogue on climate change, there are a lot of loud voices – from politicians, to scientists, to celebrities and lobbyists. However, often what’s missing are the the voices of the humans (and animals!)  that this issue impacts most directly. Through community-led digital storytelling, we have an opportunity to amplify these voices and ensure they’re a part of the decision-making about one of the most pressing issues of our time. As the world’s attention converged on COP in November, Digital Storytellers and CLEAR Environmental created a virtual program to help share the stories of those not in the room, and hosted two sessions at the main stage of the UN Climate Capacity Building Hub at COP26 in Glasgow

A bird’s eye view

  • WHAT: Series of co-facilitated climate storytelling workshops in the lead up to COP26 + a story competition + handful of edited climate stories presented at COP26 + launch of a new platform for climate storytelling
  • WHEN: 2021, in the lead up to COP26 and beyond
  • WHO: CLEAR Environmental and Digital Storytellers, facilitating 40 participants from the UN Paris Climate Capacity Building Network from Morocco to Missoula, in partnership with the UN Paris Climate Capacity Building Committee
  • WHY: Because the stories of those most affected need to be heard in the rooms where decisions are being made. Digital storytelling is a tool for making that happen
  • THE RESULTS: 3 x community stories presented on an international platform at COP26. Beyond that, only time will.

The Stories 

Three stories were chosen to bring to life and be screened at COP26 with coaching and feedback through the filming process from Digital Storytellers. Their footage was then edited into short, sharp and shareable films premiered on the world stage.

Jacqueline Fetchet – Lawyer, entrepreneur, Women4Climate, Australia

Alliance of the River Three, Malaysia

“Something that really resonated with me about that story was the authenticity of it. When it comes to storytelling, it’s really important that the communities that are most affected are actually represented in that story.  Part of my experience in entering the climate sector was that I felt there wasn’t a space for me, because it can be a pretty Western dominated field. It wasn’t until I saw other people like me that I actually felt attracted to it, because I actually felt that as a particular part of a group, and that I can make a difference. The story is important, but so is the storyteller.”

– Kat – Foundation for Environmental Stewardship (Audience member and session participant at COP26 Climate Storytellers session)

Eric Havel – Environmental Educator, USA

The background – for those who want to dive a little deeper

COP marks the moment each year where climate leaders, policymakers, politicians and activists come together for their moment in the sun, so to speak, to reiterate their ambitions to address the ‘climate emergency’, before it’s too late. 

However, climate conferences have historically failed to be inclusive and are often attended only by those with the means to travel across the world. Not only does this exclude the voices of those who bear the brunt of climate change, but it obscures the very real action being taken by local groups. Storytelling then becomes a powerful and accessible tool to carry their voices and lived experiences into the room, making the issue too personal to ignore. 

The challenge

The UN Paris Climate Capacity Building Network represents organisations from across the world building local capacity to address climate change. Together with CLEAR Environmental, Digital Storytellers was brought in to support the UN PCCB network to:

  • Build capacity to tell stories;
  • Make climate storytelling more accessible by using story to cut through jargon, scientific arguments and an overreliance on quantitative data; 
  • Put the audience first and help climate activists focus more on the needs and hopes of their audience to achieve the best outcomes;
  • Help identify and edit compelling climate stories to be presented at COP 26. 

The solution

Created and delivered in collaboration with CLEAR Environmental, we developed a four part ‘Climate Storytellers’ program that puts storytelling skills in the hands of people on the frontlines to help them share lived experiences to a global platform. 

From hands-on workshops to bespoke coaching, a story competition and even a touch of expert editing from our experienced Stories for Impact team, participants were offered everything they needed to bring their Climate Capacity Building stories to life in short, sharp and shareable ways.

Filmmaker at sunset

The process

  • Climate Storytelling Workshops – a four part workshop series to build the capacity of the capacity builders! Helping activists and practitioners on the frontlines ​to find, make, edit and share their most powerful stories addressing climate change.
  • Competition inviting participants to submit their stories, with the opportunity for the most compelling and representative  stories to be shared at COP26 
  • Video Editing for three stories to be edited by Digital Storytellers and shared with the PCCB Network and screened at COP26. 
  • Capacity-building workshops @ COP to give attendees implementable, takeaway tools to share their climate stories.
  • Launch of Climate Storytellers – a program packed with resources for telling climate stories, and featuring stories from around the world. 

What emerged – the key outcomes

Using Digital Storytellers popular Story Canvas, workshop participants quickly grasped how to piece together the essential story building blocks by reflecting on and exploring the myriad of impacts their work has from the grassroots to the treetops. Then, supported by CLEAR, they linked their stories to preparing a policy brief, ensuring that their stories were tied to tangible and implementable action. 

Sifting through and finding the story that would be most impactful for their target audience, participants gained:

  • Confidence to identify which stories will best spark communities and stakeholders into action
  • Technical skills to make and edit their stories using smartphones and affordable equipment
  • Tools and frameworks to connect their stories with policy briefs 
  • Support to share their stories across the network and to a wider audience at COP26
  • Connection and relationships with other PCCB Network members and a community of practice to continue their storytelling and activist journey 
  • Sharing the mic – the COP26 workshops were brilliantly facilitated by Inés Yábar from Restless Development and Ellie Tonks from Climate-KIC who graciously shared the mic early and often to give rise to the wisdom in the room. 

“I work as a researcher in climate finance, so my audience is very technical and academic. But, due to financial inequity, vaccine inequity, there’s been a lot of youth from my community who haven’t been able to come to this conference, so I found myself in this position of having to share their stories and share their narrative,  which is why I needed to come to this room, so I’m able to better share their stories and unlock finance for them, so that we can have increased representation for the most vulnerable people.” 

Could this work for your organisation or sector?

Just like people, movements have stories that need to be told. We offer a range of programs tailored to climate storytelling to Make Your Climate Story Count including the newly co-launched Climate Storytellers platform with CLEAR Environmental, packed with resources for telling climate stories, and featuring stories from around the world. 

If you are interested in building the skills and capacity of your organisation’s budding storytellers, please get in touch to see what’s possible

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capacity building, climate storytellers, Climate storytelling, COP26, movement building, storytelling, storytelling for climate action