Earth Day

Claire Brady
Written by Claire Brady

Tags: communications environment PR sustainability

Earth Day provides an opportunity to take stock of our progress towards addressing the global sustainability challenges we face.   

This year’s edition follows several worrying reports including the final IPCC findings, revealing that over 3 billion individuals live in regions that are at significant risk of being adversely affected by climate change. In addition, research by WWF, published in late 2022, showed that global wildlife populations have plummeted by 69% on average since the first Earth Day.  

The report card does not look good. 

This is why sustainability is such an essential issue for Stand. Our work is guided by two key Sustainable Development Goals, inequality and climate change, and our whole ethos is focused on working with trailblazers who believe in better.  

Despite the alarming facts, there has never been a more exciting time to be involved in sustainability. One of the largest-ever surveys conducted by the UNDP1 on public attitudes towards climate change and climate action showed that global support is high and that almost everyone supports at least one policy intervention to address climate change2.  

Perhaps even more surprising are the findings of research with business executives that showed that 63% of executives are willing to grow their business in a sustainable way for the planet, even if it means lower revenue in the near future3.  

With the majority of the public and business leaders on our side, we are in an excellent position to create meaningful impact.  

But is it that simple? 

This year’s Earth Day theme is ‘invest in our planet’. A key message of the campaign is that investing in a green economy is the only path to a healthy, prosperous, and equitable future.  

Just about every industry you can think of will be disrupted if we are to achieve a green, clean, and less resource-intensive future that also meets everyone’s needs in a just way.  The energy industry is being disrupted and even the hard to abate sectors such as steel production are being tackled with a shift to hydrogen. The transition to electrified transport is well underway, albeit with challenges remaining for long distance freight. The rise of plant-based diets is attempting to disrupt the carbon intensive meat and dairy industry. And the growth of the circular business model, which is necessary to address overconsumption of resources, will fundamentally shift our approach to goods, from essentially an ownership model to more of an access and use model.  

Yet for this disruption to move quick enough to help us reach our global net zero goals, we must ramp up investment in climate and nature-based solutions faster than current levels. We also need to raise broader awareness (and engagement) of the solutions and present a positive view of the future to ensure that investment flows where it is required.  

As a communications consultancy, we are: 

  • Using communications to disrupt the status-quo:  

We have a well-established track record of working with innovative brands disrupting business as usual. These trailblazers are creating sustainable solutions that will enable us to tackle the significant challenges we face, whether that is producing and storing clean energy or shifting transport solutions from dirty fossil fuels to electric vehicles.  

  • Changing the way we talk about sustainability:  

We recognise that creating a better, more sustainable, and equitable future for all will inevitably impact all aspects of our lives. We must bring the conversation into the here and now and talk about it in ways that make sense to our daily lives. So, we’ve started talking about sustainability through the lens of how we live:  

  • Where we live and work,  
  • How we power our lives,  
  • How we move (people and goods)  
  • What we eat and drink,  
  • What and how we consume.  

By creating an optimistic vision of a sustainable future, we will be more likely to engage people with the positive benefits it will bring. When we combine this with sector change and a nature-friendly legislative environment, we are in a much stronger position to accelerate the pace and scale of change.  

  • Creating a virtuous circle to speed up change: 

We need to create a virtuous circle, with brands playing an educator role, explaining why we need a more circular and low-carbon future and consumers demonstrating demand for more sustainable products. Getting the messaging right will be vital for this to be effective. 

  • Making the case for a supportive policy environment: 

For this to reach the scale and pace of changed needed it must also be backed with the right legislative and regulatory framework. Which is why we also need to prove to politicians of all political parties there is comprehensive support for climate-friendly and nature-friendly policies. As the research by UNDP showed, when asked, the majority of the public are in favour, but somehow this isn’t translating into manifesto commitments.  

  • Leading brave conversations that change the prevailing narrative:  

We want to work with brands that will lead brave public conversations about the future we want and what it will take to get there. We strongly believe that brands have a vital role as educators, and raising awareness and understanding will enable and underpin the shift we need to see in attitudes and, subsequently, behaviour. 

A sustainable and equitable future shouldn’t be up for debate. It should be something that we all desire, something that we all recognise as a better vision for how we live and something that we all collaboratively work towards.  

Our role as communicators is to help shape a positive narrative for a sustainable future that moves us beyond divisive and polarised arguments for and against sustainability and closer to a shared understanding of the benefits it will bring to not just the planet, but to all of our lives.  

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