I’ve just returned from a marvellous Easter week of activities with the family.
And wow, what a week to be away from home.
A UK-visit and speech from the inspirational Greta Thunberg; a week of extensive activity by Extinction Rebellion (itself triggering a deluge of messages & discussion on my WhatsApp group for sustainability professionals); and the airing of David Attenborough’s Climate Change – The Facts on BBC One.
It was no less remarkable a week in Paris where we were staying though, with the intense fire that ravaged Notre Dame, and I was excited to see several highly-visible protests aligned with Extinction Rebellion, which is now rapidly becoming a truly global voice of the people.
Attenborough himself is a force of nature. His passion, vitality and productivity seems to increase as he ages. He’s a nuclear reactor; I wonder what his half-life is? His (previous) latest outing Our Planet, a mere two-and-a-half weeks ago (what has he been doing in the meantime?) is an ambitious partnership between WWF and Netflix which is on track to reach 25m households within its first month. A love letter to nature, it aims “to inspire people over the world to understand our planet – and the challenges it faces”.
I’m excited to get back to helping our team plan our forthcoming campaign, which seeks to address the disengagement of our younger generations with nature, a phenomenon perfectly described in a term coined by Richard Louv as ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’. As Attenborough has said:
“No one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced”.
We’ll take a different tack with this campaign and really focus on the power of marketing to raise the profile of local opportunities to engage with nature, including a range of events hosted by our fantastic campaign partners to re-engage the next generation with the wonders of the natural world that surround them. For this, we’re working with the super talented Bristol-based team of Prophecy Unlimited and I can’t wait to share the exciting work we’ve been creating.
The background work to the campaign has involved new research to explore the extent of the issue in communities across the UK, as well as some possible solutions, and to unearth the terms used by young people to describe their local environment. We need to understand what will engage kids and families, in order to start to ‘shift the dial’ in behaviour around engaging with nature.
And we could learn some stuff from France too. The town of Puteaux in Paris hosts regular ‘Nature Sundays‘ with activities for kids to enjoy and learn about their natural surroundings. In the small village of Bazemont, kids had taken over the car park for ‘Projet Nature’, and street signs encouraged visitors to “respetez la nature”. We have to make nature visible again in our streets and cities, to help us understand the natural world and care about protecting it.
Back to Attenborough for a final nugget of wisdom: “If you lose your interest in the natural world you’ve lost a very precious possession and something which could give you great pleasure for the rest of your life”. I hope that our next campaign will bring encourage a new generation to discover this great pleasure for themselves.