Addressing the impacts of climate change is as much of a local issue as it is a global issue. Individual behaviors play a vital role in shifting the mindset of the general population towards adopting behaviors that can sustainably and indefinitely limit global warming. Implementing social and behavior change communication (SBCC) campaigns can change behaviors, perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs on a range of issues like environmentally friendly practices, clean energy development, and investing in natural resources. It is a tool that can help advance and sustain climate adaptation and mitigation efforts.
During the “Communicating Urgency: Social and Behavior Change in the Era of Climate Change” webinar (full video), hosted by Springboard in September, I spoke about RTI’s efforts supporting USAID-funded SBCC campaigns aimed at influencing public perceptions to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and protect wildlife. RTI successfully implemented two social and behavioral change communication approaches in Guatemala and Southeast Asia that demonstrated how targeted communication campaigns can influence decision makers and direct a specific audience to shift behaviors that negatively impact conservation efforts.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Guatemala
The USAID-funded Low Emission Development (LEDS) project worked with the Government of Guatemala to create the country’s first low emission development strategy. Since its launch in 2019, this strategy has been one of the cornerstones of Guatemala’s climate mitigation planning, helping to bridge long-term climate goals with economic growth objectives.
LEDS launched an SBCC campaign to highlight the benefits of low emissions at events like trade fairs, government events, and on the radio. It engaged with local stakeholders to understand their perspectives on climate change and to create messages that would resonate with them. The goal was to influence public perception across the general population to support low emission policies, decrease Guatemala’s carbon footprint, and to support counterparts in government, private business, and civil society to strengthen the effectiveness of their own climate-related communications and social engagement strategies.
Guatemalan SBCC campaign results
As a result, LEDS worked with eight government ministries and over 25 businesses to generate evidence and communicate the benefits of climate change mitigation and low emission development, working across economic sectors such as agriculture, energy, transportation, forest management, and industry. Over 250 participants attended the public launch of the National Low Emission Development Strategy, which was recently used to updated Guatemala’s Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement.