Module 8. Communication, Education and Public Awareness

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1 Module 8. Awareness Raising & Reporting 1 Module 8 Communication, Education and Public Awareness - 1 -

2 Module 8. Awareness Raising & Reporting 2 TABLE OF CONTENTS 8 Communication, Education and Public Awareness Objectives of the Module CEPA Terminology The Objectives of CEPA Programmes Designing CEPA Programmes Creating a Mind Map Designing a Public Awareness Raising Campaign Designing Communication Tools

3 Module 8. Awareness Raising & Reporting 3 8 COMMUNICATION, EDUCATION & PUBLIC AWARENESS Module Objectives: To highlight the role of communication, education and awareness raising in the fight against invasive alien species (IAS) Outline the key elements of awareness raising Describe how to design an awareness raising campaign Human activities are the main cause of the invasive species problem, whether intentional introductions for specific purposes, or unintentional as a byproduct of some other activity. In order to address the invasive species issue, it is therefore imperative that the strategy includes elements designed to modify human values, beliefs and behaviour across all sectors of society, from policy makers and institutions to schools and the general public. As stated in GISP s Global Strategy on Invasive Species: "Active public engagement is critical to successful invasive species management leading to an informed public that supports ongoing actions to reduce the threat of IAS, and key stakeholders who are actively engaged in implementation of IAS solutions..." Such engagement is, in fact, important to biodiversity issues as a whole, and the Convention on Biological Diversity and many other conventions and organizations places a strong emphasis on it through their Communications, Education and Public Awareness programmes (CEPA). In this context, the term is commonly understood to refer to a suite of social instruments that build support, inform, engage and empower people with the aim of bringing about a change in action. CEPA also provides the link between science and ecology to people s social and economic reality. 8.1 CEPA Terminology Communication is the two-way exchange of information and is a means to gain cooperation of groups in society by listening to them first and clarifying why and how decisions are made. In an instrumental approach, communication is used with other instruments to support biodiversity conservation to address economic constraints and to motivate action

4 Module 8. Awareness Raising & Reporting 4 Education is a set of processes that can inform, motivate and empower people to support biodiversity conservation, not only by making lifestyle changes, but also through promoting change in the way that institutions, business, and governments operate. Awareness brings the issues relating to biodiversity to the attention of key groups who have the power to influence outcomes. Awareness is an agenda setting and marketing exercise helping people to know what and why this is an important issue, the aspirations for the targets, and what is and can be done to achieve these. Further information on CEPA programmes under the CBD can be found on Communication, education and awareness raising are critical components in the fight against IAS Awareness raising should cover causes and impacts of IAS, as well as solutions. All sections of society should be included 8.2 The Objectives of CEPA Programmes Greater knowledge and awareness about invasive species is a pre-requisite to increased stakeholder participation and engagement. Conversely, lack of awareness is a major contributor to failure in addressing IAS issues. For instance, further species introductions may take place out of ignorance when rules and regulations are ignored, or if measures to address IAS are actively opposed. Although the costs of ensuring that all stakeholders are properly informed may be considerable, the benefits include a higher likelihood of success in achieving management goals. The benefits of raising awareness include: Greater understanding of issues: Biological invasion is an extremely complex phenomenon. The marine environment is also complex and removed from the public s daily experience and perceptions. There is a danger of people feeling overwhelmed by the various aspects of the problem. Key messages about the causes and effects of invasive species will provide a framework and lead to a deeper understanding

5 Module 8. Awareness Raising & Reporting 5 Ownership of the problem, and involvement in the solutions: Individuals, small businesses (e.g. pet fish stores) and even large industry (e.g. exporters reliant upon shipping) can change their behaviour as a result of better information and adopt more environmentally friendly practices. The key to evoking such change is highlighting their involvement in the problem and conveying a sense of ownership to them regarding the solution. Greater acceptability of measures to address IAS: Even controversial actions (e.g. use of poisons in eradicating the Black-Striped Mussel in New Zealand) can succeed if the decision-making is transparent (e.g. includes consultation), and the reasons for the activities are explained properly. Increased political support / Greater resources: Awareness at decision-making levels will lead to informed decisions and better political support, hence more resources. Often projects are not funded or necessary support is not given to management projects because the decision makers are unaware of the magnitude of the problem. 8.3 Designing CEPA Programmes The impacts of IAS are wide-ranging. They can be direct or indirect. Invasive alien species impact economic, social and environmental interests of a variety of stakeholders. Helping target groups become aware of the implications for themselves, the loss of natural habitats or increased costs associated with management of alien invasives will contribute to greater engagement of stakeholder groups. The nature of CEPA programmes can be significantly influenced by factors such as resource availability and the nature of the stakeholders. Therefore, a variety of techniques may be necessary to achieve your communication goals. It is therefore important to take a systematic approach to designing the programme. You must: Decide on the central message and objective of your campaign Define the target audience Choose appropriate communication tools - 5 -

6 Module 8. Awareness Raising & Reporting Creating a Mind Map Mind mapping is a technique used for arranging ideas and their interconnections visually; it is a popular brainstorming technique and a useful first step to designing a CEPA programme. Under the UNEP GEF project Removing Barriers to Invasive Plant Management in Africa four pilot countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Uganda and Zambia) are addressing barriers that exist to the management of invasive plants under four categories: the enabling policy environment, information, invasive plant prevention and management and capacity. As part of the project preparatory stage each country has devised a communication strategy to enhance the communication of Invasive plant issues to identified stakeholders. The combined strategies for the four countries have been summarised in the mind map below. In other words, mind mapping can be used to define the message that needs to be communicated; the target audience; the methods of communication; the education and training needs; and the challenges

7 Module 8. Awareness Raising & Reporting 7 Figure 8.1: Mind map summarising IAS communication strategies devised for Ethiopia, Ghana, Uganda and Zambia

8 Module 8. Awareness Raising & Reporting Designing a Public Awareness Raising Campaign Deciding what to raise awareness about In designing an effective public-awareness campaign, you must decide what it is that you want to raise awareness about and whom you are addressing the awareness campaign toward. Some examples of objectives are: Disseminate information on IAS to improve general understanding of the issue Increase awareness of a particular species and its impacts Encourage stakeholders to take a specific action (e.g. fishermen to clean boats and equipment to prevent spread of IAS) To bring about a change in attitude toward an invasive species which is popular yet destructive Build support for the use of controversial IAS management techniques (eg. poisons) Motivate people to participate in programmes and activities Defining the target audience It is vital to specify the target audience for a campaign. This may range from policy makers to school children. The audience type will indicate the best approach to be taken, the nature of the message to be sent and the most effective communication channel. The list below is indicative of the various types of groups that can come under the broad classification of target audience. The general public The general public can be both a driver of IAS problems and the group that is left to deal with the effects of IAS problems. The support of the general public is vital for the success of an overall IAS strategy as well as for specific programmes. Lack of public interest or hostility on the other hand can actually diminish success. Schools Schools at all levels are the starting point to build IAS awareness. They can be a very effective group for the transmission of messages. Focus stakeholders This group includes specialist societies like anglers, diving associations, wildlife groups, naturalists and others. When IAS issues are relevant to their particular interest, they tend to be more receptive to the need for management and prevention. They are also likely to be willing to play their part when they realise the difference a change in a practice might - 8 -

9 Module 8. Awareness Raising & Reporting 9 make (for example boat owners checking boats for zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) before moving to other waterways). Industry This group includes industries involved in, contributing to, or affected by marine alien species (e.g. coastal exporters, shipping companies, mariculture operators, aquarium trade) Policy makers Depending on the situation, this group will include local and national government, its officials, agencies and institutions. This includes those who form strategies and influence policy, as well as those who are involved in its implementation. Many different target groups need education to aid in preventing IAS: - Politicians - Fishing/mariculture industry - Scientific community - Shipping community - Coastal community - Educators - Port & maritime authorities - General public Use of appropriate communication tools Following are a general list of points to consider when promoting messages: Formulate a clear message, using simple and easy to understand language Use catchy phrases and eye-catching logos. Use flagship species or pathways as much as possible to catch attention - for example the use of a country s national icon a plant or an animal, which might be endangered by an IAS. Flagship cases can be used to highlight the issue of an endangered species that people value, an economic cost to the average person, or a health risk to children etc. Consistent messages and messages that not only educate but also motivate changes in behaviour. Focus on the solution rather than the problem Focus on the values that need to be protected rather than the IAS itself Remember to be sensitive to cultural values and perceptions - 9 -

10 Module 8. Awareness Raising & Reporting 10 Flagship (dramatic) cases of impact of some invasions can be used to capture interest. Using the right tool or a combination of tools will result in a better outcome. There is a wide range of tools that can be used effectively with different target groups. Mass media such as television, newspapers, radio can reach large numbers of people across a very broad spectrum Information in the form of posters, flyers, brochures in areas like pet shops, malls, grocery shops, market places, bus stations, train stations, airports reaches the particular audience that travels or shops in those places. Presentations at conferences and related meetings generally target high-level audiences such as scientists and planners Lectures at schools using a variety of techniques depending on the age group targeted Displays at aquariums or science fairs reach both the general public and target groups (eg. pet owners) Community outreach projects. Either creating a new project or combining efforts with an existing one. Outreach projects will use a combination of tools to effectively reach their target audience Designing Communication Tools A poster should engage stakeholders and help get the main points across to as many people as possible. A good poster has a clear message, is clearly visual and can be easily read from at least two meters away. Remember Choose your message; remember to focus on this message through the poster Headings should contain key points, use short sentences and catchy phrases Use images and text to support the message Balance the text with images

11 Module 8. Awareness Raising & Reporting 11 Use 2-3 colours The audience shapes your poster Know your audience, and aim the messages at them. Different audiences require different levels of information. Remember to leave contact information Plan, Draft, Edit and Consult Figure 8.2: Example of poster used by the Sea Grant Program in the USA

12 Module 8. Awareness Raising & Reporting 12 Figure 8.3: An eyecatching poster warning people not to release their aquarium pets into the wild. (Southwest Florida. Aquatic nuisance species) Figure 8.4: Eye-catching logos and a clear message. ( a. Weedbusters, New Zealand. b. Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine)

13 Module 8. Awareness Raising & Reporting 13 Figure 8.5: An eye-catching logo and a consistent message in different formats- a horizontal sticker and a large poster. (The Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers Protect your Waters)

14 Module 8. Awareness Raising & Reporting 14 Figure 8.6: Educative and showing impacts. (The Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers Protect your Waters) Summary Raising awareness and educating stakeholders is a central instrument in the fight against IAS and, an informed and involved public is its greatest asset. All levels of society from decision-makers in government and the private sector to the public at large need to be engaged in awareness raising efforts. Humans are at the heart of the problem of IAS and so therefore must also be at the heart of the solution. Remember the target audience spans all components in society, from government decision makers and administrators, to Donors, Researchers, Educators, Fisheries Practitioners and the public at large. All groups have a role to play in and assist with prevention, remedy and control, and monitoring and feedback reporting. Yet, targeting of the right issue and message to the right audience will result in a most effective campaign. Awareness campaigns are more effective when social contexts are taken into account. It is necessary to be sensitive to cultural perceptions, attitudes, values and interests

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