Autumn Series - Webinar 1: Covid19, our appreciation of nature & conservation

2020 UKNEE Webinar Series 1: Covid19, our appreciation of nature & conservation

Dr Ganga Shreedhar & Prof Susana Mourato, London School of Economics and Policy

This webinar, first in the autumn 2020 series, took place on 16th September – in an unexpectedly timely manner following on from David Attenborough’s documentary on the human destruction of nature.

Apologies from Ece Ozdemiroglu who facilitated the webinar but forgot to record it for our members. A lesson learnt! For the benefit of all, below are her key learnings.
The full paper is HERE
A policy blog the authors wrote can be found HERE
They have commissioned a cartoon to communicate the key messages from the paper and the link will appear here when it is ready.

  • Information about the links between environmental degradation and Covid19 influences respondents’ behaviours: in particular they become more likely to support nature conservation policies but also policies like tax on meat and commercial ban on wildlife trade
  • At the time of the study, this information that environmental degradation and COVID19 could be linked was new but over time it is being repeated more and more and the more it is repeated the more influential it is likely to become and the longer its influence is likely to last. Therefore, clear and repeated communication is crucial.
  • In terms of information – hearing about opposing views dampens the influence of each piece of information on behaviour. Therefore, it is not sufficient to represent all the views but we need to represent the source and weight of evidence behind the views – hope broadcasting companies hear this!
  • Our other experiences during the lockdown were more positive – like increased appreciation of nature, working from home, cycling and walking more etc. For such experiences to influence behaviour ther needs to be the infrastructure / system / opportunities for people to change behaviours – like not requiring them to return to office if they could continue to work from home; like providing safe cycle routes, and like not incentivising individual and firm behaviours that are damaging in other ways.
  • Top tips for researchers in communicating research:
    • As well as publishing papers in your usual channels, write in more accessible ones: like policy blogs, and social media 
    • Use other means – like art pieces, cartoons
    • Present your work beyond academics
    • Be mindful of what information you include in your work – focus on the key messages and make it relevant
    • Balance your argument: not so negative that renders people helpless and hopeless; not so positive that lulls them into a false sense of comfort. Ensure that the information is real and realistic and ensure you explain who has the capacity to effect change. Action (behaviour change) is the result of feeling the urgency and having the capacity to effect change
    • Repeat the message – don’t feel disheartened by having to repeat: repetition is in the nature of communication