Raising Awareness in Europe
Building awareness and promoting action
Climate change is already undermining efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals for poverty reduction.
- Temperature increase may make coffee growing impossible by 2020, a key income source in Uganda.
- Decreasing precipitation is threatening water supply, agriculture and biodiversity in Southern Africa.
- More frequent extreme events and sea-level rise bring about damages in Bangladesh.
Such economic impacts of climate change on people's lives in developing countries are far too little known or conceptualised in Europe given the citizens preoccupation with their own interest, especially now that the financial crisis is undermining efforts to assist developing countries and to achieve a strong equitable global agreement to fight climate change.
Despite mountain evidence that climate change is already seriously affecting the lives of poor communities around the world, the perception of EU citizens and decision makers is generally that the negative impacts of climate change will not occur until some point in the future.
However, the EU is a critical negotiating bloc in the international climate negotiations, and increasing its efforts to implement a new global agreement in a manner that is more pro-poor should encourage stronger, more urgeng action by other negotiating governments.
The level of successful adaptation in developing countries will depend on support from and by the EU (and other industrialised countries). If strong policies are successfully implemented nationally and globally, this will substantially reduce the future negative impact of climate change on poor people in developing countries and will help them to adapt to residual climate change.
Why raise awareness?
It is often only when constituents are knocking on the doors of MPs, when shareholders are meeting with CEOs and when the media is full of an issue that change at the institutional level takes place. Decision makers need to see that there is public will and motivation for change to happen, and that they will be supported in making change happen.
When it comes to climate change, many people are already aware of the existance of climate change, but fewer are aware of the impact of climate change on poor women, men and children around the world. Without a sense of urgency or injustice, the drive to make change is low. In addition, there are often few effective platforms of action that people can take to have their voices heard.
What is Practical Action doing to raise awareness in Europe?
An EC-funded three year project - 'Climate change and poverty reduction' - is now underway which puts this issue firmly at the heart of the climate change debate.
Practical Action's partners in this project are:
Germanwatch is a north-south initiative and has been one of the leading German NGOs in the German climate debate for 15 years. Present at all UNFCCC negotiations in Bonn it has a long established relationship with the UNFCCC secretariat (Bonn).
Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe
CAN-Europe is a Brussels-based environmental NGO focused on climate change. Established in 1989, CAN-Europe acts as a coordination office for environmental groups working on climate change issues. At present, CAN-Europe counts 100 members throughout the EU 25 plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.
The Prague Global Policy Institute - Glopolis - is a Czech non-partisan non-governmental organisation that deals with the analysis of economic globalization, trade and development, including the impact of climate change on the developing world.
These organisations have a wealth of experience in working with climate-related issues.
What do we want to see?
Urgent action is needed to tackle climate change and ensure justice for the world's poor. While acknowledging climate change as a threat, most discussions at EU level and in Member States lack awareness of the impact climate change is already having on poor people in developing countries. Yet, without action on climate change, the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, to which the EU is committed, will be seriously undermined.
This project aims to work with decision makers to demonstrate further the need for ambitious policies. Raising awareness with the general public and initiating action will demonstrate public support for such policies.
How will this be achieved?
The project targets three core groups:
General public - the public will be engaged in large numbers through the media, the web, advocacy training and existing supporter networks. By encouraging participation from environment and development interest groups, and by raising awareness and equipping people with facts and figures, it is hoped this will motivate them to press for more urgent and ambitious action.
Secondary school students - politicians are keen to listen to the views of young people, as future voters. Students are future decision makers and the messages will have a longstanding impact. They will be targeted through specifically designed web materials aimed at the citizenship syllabus.
Politicians and influencers - Most contact with this group will be channelled through the other two larger groups. This will help to maximise impact by demonstrating a groundswell of support for action on climate change. In addition, a number of parliamentary events will be held, together with engagement in key decision making processes such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Why not have a look at our "Take Action" page to find out how you can help us to raise the awareness needed to create the changes we all want to see.
The project is funded by European Commission EuropeAid Cooperation Office. The contents of this site is the sole responsibility of Practical Action and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.