Climate change is a complex issue of growing importance, requiring action and synergy of the entire society. Clear, regular, quality, and open communication is a prerequisite for successfully fighting climate change, according to a gathering organized by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Environmental Protection Ministry to present the Climate Change Communication Strategy.
The strategy represents a framework for national climate change communication, and is aimed at raising the awareness of climate change and its impact among Serbian citizens and numerous other stakeholders, the strategy’s authors, Aleksandar Jovović, professor at the University of Belgrade, and Branislava Jovičić, communication consultant and president of the Center for Promotion of Sustainable Development (CPOR), said at the presentation.
The document contains guidelines and recommendations for developing quality and more systematic, result-driven communication. This more effective approach to communication is necessary due to the growing significance of climate change and its impact on everyday life, as well as to the Republic of Serbia’s climate change obligations that the state assumed by ratifying the Paris Agreement and the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU.
This strategy has been produced for the Environmental Protection Ministry with the support of the OSCE in Serbia. It is intended for all those dealing with climate change, and contains recommendations on how to communicate the two main components in fighting climate change: mitigation, i.e. reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation, i.e. adjustment to climate change.
Deputy Head of the OSCE Mission to Serbia Joseph Mellott highlighted the importance of the availability of quality information and knowledge about climate change, noting that this will motivate citizens, institutions, and society as a whole to be more involved in solving the problem. State Secretary at the Environmental Protection Ministry Ivan Karić agreed with this assessment, adding that climate change knows no borders and that cooperation in this field is necessary.
Photo 1. The presentation of the Climate Change Communication Strategy, Hotel Metropol Palace, Belgrade (Source: OSCE, Milan Obradović)
Danijela Božanić, head of the Climate Change Unit at the Environmental Protection Ministry, said that the strategy’s goal is to help reach social consensus and raise awareness that climate change is everyone’s responsibility. At the same time, concrete activities to mitigate the impact of climate change have to be a common task, she added, noting that this can only be achieved through good communication.
Quality and topical content to ensure media coverage and public attention
Climate change communication is very complex and must be approached strategically, said Vladimir Đurđević of the National Council on Climate Change. “There are many controversies, with half-truths being communicated, which creates confusion and contributes to a lack of understanding of this field. Communication needs to be clear, and possible solutions need to be particularly clearly communicated,” Đurđević said.
Tanja Petrović of the Aarhus center, on behalf of civil society organizations, noted that civil society organizations are the perfect partners for this important endeavor, thanks to their know-how, flexibility, and resources. For his part, Dušan Stokić of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce (PKS) said that businesses have to be partners and not just a target group in communicating climate change, adding that the PKS fosters a permanently open dialogue.
“The results of climate change communication have been modest so far: the significance and importance of the issue have been raised, but communication has to be more systematic, thought out, and in line with current communication trends. Communicators have to fight for media coverage and public attention with quality and topical content and an innovative and creative approach,” Branislava Jovičić said in conclusion.