A compelling message for Durban: The Global Partnership Climate, Fisheries and Aquaculture (PaCFA) asks for advice
A Peer Assist session at the Share Fair in Rome, 27 September, 2011
Today I had the pleasure to facilitate a session for a FAO team who works on issues related to Climate Change, Fisheries and Aquaculture. The team had invited participants of the Share Fair to join them and give them some advice on how to formulate a compelling message that would bring fishery and aquaculture on the map of Cop17 to take place in Durban, Africa.
We used the Peer Assist as a session format that “brings together a group of peers to elicit feedback on a problem, project, or activity, and draw lessons from the participants’ knowledge and experience.”
Team member Tina Farmer introduced the topic: A group of organizations which work on fishery and aquaculture topics worldwide started to form an informal network called the Global Partnership Climate, Fisheries and Aquaculture (PaCFA). This was a first important step to share what each of these organizations is doing. The group formulated 10 key issues that the partners are currently trying to address. Now they want to formulate one key message that they could use to promote and advocate for their cause, “which tends to not make it into the short list of climate change hot topics, like forestry for example”, Tina said.
We started the session with a short brainstorming exercise: What makes a message compelling? “It needs to be useful”, “be adapted to the audience”, “generate credibility”, “it needs to be repeated everywhere”, were some of the responses.
We then asked: What makes a policy message compelling? Participants mentioned the need to “talk about impact and consequences”, “to deliver the message at the right place and at the right time”, and “to make the benefits clear”.
We then went into the feedback and input part of the peer assist process. What could our colleagues do to design a compelling message for Durban? The group came at with a whole set of ideas:
- Develop a one-line message by doing a contest, or as part of a campaign (which requires funds)
- Develop the message together with the members of the partnership. Involve communications people from your partners; Write up a one-pager with the issue and then organize a teleconference to virtually co-creation the message. Use Google+, skype, blog, facebook.
- Think about the “one” thing, the “hook”. What distinguishes you and your issue from the others? There is a lot of competition for messages in an event such as COP17. So, what will generate the “pull” reaction from the policymakers present at COP17 instead of you pushing them?
- Use keywords (buzzwords?) like “blue carbon” or “blue economy” that immediately retain people’s attention. This raised issue of whether those keywords can cover the complexity and technicality of the partner’s area of work.
- Visualize what’s at stake: “In 5 years from now only one fish is left” or “Policy makers sitting in a boat with no fish in a net: Who’s fault was it?”Use cartoons. Use maps to visualize the consequences. The shift in distribution of species. Make personalized maps by country. Put maps on the web to share widely.
At the end of our session we did a short review of the peer assist as a collaborative process. Participants thought that “it was good to get input from people with a different background”; “It could work as well in the field at a local level, with fishers”; “Needs good moderation”; “It provides a safe environment to talk about issues we face.”
Tina said: “We are coming out with a lot of ideas. The willingness to share ideas was great.” One participant had an idea for a next possible step: “We could do a workshop using role play: You play the policymakers and have to convince each other.” What about that?
What was really cool about the session? An FAO colleague named Anton who sits “just a floor upstairs” participated in the session and had some great ideas and information for the team. They decided that they will get in touch soon. Let’s hope so.