World Environment Day; a farce or a timely reminder?

World Environment Day took place this past Saturday, and in the run-up, many companies around the world plastered their social media accounts with posts about their drive towards net-zero or a reduction of single-use plastic. This is a small, but significant win – the fact that companies feel they need to be seen and heard in the green environmental space highlights a shift in mindset, not only by consumers but some of the largest corporations in the world.

We all know that we need to do more as a society – there isn’t an onus on one organisation or a set of individuals. This year, World Environment Day focused on our ecosystems to Reimagine, Recreate and Restore. This call to action comes as we are reminded of our situation, such as every three seconds, the world loses enough forest to cover a football pitch.

Fundamentally, healing our environment and driving towards a net-zero future is a multifaceted task that requires more than just pretty pictures, flowing social media copy and pledges. It requires tangible action, and this is coming from someone that has a career in crafting this external messaging.

With the upcoming G7 conference and COP26 shining a spotlight on the environmental efforts of our world leaders, time will tell whether words are being translated into action. This is especially true for the UK, which will be hosting both conferences.

Every company, organisation and individual have an opportunity to make a difference, but how they make that difference is up to them. As I reflect on the World Environment Day campaign, the question I have is, does this campaign or other such awareness days really move the needle?

That would depend on the strategy and the overall objective. Arguably, there is certainly a lot more noise being generated, along with clearer direction as to what people can do to be part of the action. The United Nations (UN) put together a pack of assets for people to get involved on social media, to spread the sentiment and aim of World Environment Day, far and wide.

There is no question that knowledge is power. The UN says that “International days and weeks are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilise political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity.”

At Stand, we pride ourselves on telling powerful stories of action and working with companies that believe in better in their industry. We’re also taking a deep dive into key sectors, from transport and mobility, to financial services, energy and infrastructure, as part of our ‘Sustainnovation’ series, to uncover a deeper understanding of the impact of the pandemic on the road to net-zero.

Whilst it’s easy to write-off support for campaigns such as World Environment Day as simply self-serving, we must look behind the messaging at what a combined effort to share reliable, evidence-based information can achieve. When it comes to brands, look closely at what they’re doing, feel empowered to use this global movement as a tool to enact real change and drive forward #GenerationRestoration.

Thought-provoking communication and awareness campaigns shouldn’t be underestimated as a farse. Every tweet, press release and initiative has a purpose, as long as we continue to push for openness, transparency and tangible action.

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