Over the next few years, the world will need to address some very pressing issues. From an environmental perspective, Mckinsey has highlighted that sustainability is at a tipping point. Global energy-related emissions are expected to peak in 2024, and if the demand for plastics follows its current trajectory, plastics-waste volume would grow from 260 million tons per year in 2016, to 460 million by 2030. Ready to switch off yet? Well so are consumers, and that’s part of the challenge we’re facing.
As the urgent deadlines get closer, and the predictions become more dire, the scale of the collective problems get increasingly overwhelming. But it’s not apathy that’s the issue here. Consumers feel a strong sense of responsibility for both environmental imperatives and social injustice, but they are just not sure where to direct these emotions. What global organisations need to do is make the information around socio-environmental issues more accessible, with media projects that drive consumer engagement for responsible action.
Channelling emotion into action
There are plenty of practical steps that people can take in their day-to-day lives to help support the change that’s needed. Individual actions, in areas such as opting for domestic renewable energy, choosing hybrid or electric vehicles, or altering personal eating habits, can have a massive impact when undertaken collectively. But if consumers have the right information, they can also push policymakers to initiate change in areas such as renewable investment and circular economies. Or champion the development of interconnected ecosystems, that blend natural habitats with human ones, as well as managing agricultural demand more effectively.
So how can we inspire positive change in the world, and cut through the noise to deliver messages that will really resonate? While the effects of climate change in the coming years are mostly predetermined, the extent of future damage relies on the actions taken now to reduce carbon emissions over the next decade. Setting consumers on a positive new course will rely on winning hearts and minds. Video has become a powerful medium for raising awareness about environmental and sustainability projects across multiple platforms. It enables organisations and individuals to share compelling visual content, engage audiences, and drive action towards environmental conservation and sustainable practices.
Media with a mission
Media organisations delivering socially responsible content will need to have this mission embedded into their company culture and philosophy. This became clear to me after working with Time to Act Entertainment, a transmedia company that focuses on using creative content to raise awareness and change the narrative around socio-environmental issues. Time to Act utilises a diverse range of content sources, including original assets, social media filters, and video messages through iPad installations, to educate and entertain audiences. This convergence of entertainment and education into ‘edutainment’ content, has been pivotal to the company’s successful dissemination of important messages.
To tell these stories effectively, and resonate with diverse audiences globally, an innovative approach is needed. Recent Time to Act projects include the Climate Dreams boxes and installations. These allow people to express their views on climate change, and generate video content that can be shared far beyond any in-person location where the installation is set up. The project invites people to share their ideas about the effects of the climate emergency, and their hopes for the future of the planet in a way that’s relevant to them. An app creates an emergency scenario for the participant, that is linked to a climate issue such as forest fires, rising sea levels, or air pollution, and then gives them just 15 seconds to communicate their vision of what could stop environmental damage. This short timeframe mimics the urgency of climate emergencies worldwide, and then gives the audience a catalyst to act.
Driving change with content
Time to Act utilises various sources for its messages, including shooting original content on different cameras and formats, using filters on social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, as well as capturing video messages through iPad installations. It’s the variation in the approach that makes its portfolio of content so interesting. By bringing together groups of specialists in education, technology, environment, entertainment, science, and creativity, to work on video projects, the team is building a repository of content that will drive real change. Videographers, editors, and social media producers can also layer a regional perspective onto the content to make sure it resonates locally.
But bringing together all this media from different global sources is a huge task. More traditional approaches to sending and receiving content, would mean time-consuming downloads and spending hours searching for the right clips. The turnaround for this type of video project demands instant access. Another consideration is sheer scale at which audiences consume new media, as well as the geographical spread across different platforms. This means that a centralised content repository is crucial. Efficient media access is the best way to collaborate on any collective mission. By unifying storage and consolidating assets in the cloud, media teams can continually feed an audience which is keen to learn but also expects to be entertained.
The social impact of video
Video has the power to supercharge environmental campaigns, revolutionising the way information is shared, raising awareness, and inspiring action. By leveraging visual storytelling and entertaining viewers as well as informing them, messages stay with an audience long after they have stopped watching. This helps to galvanise public support, promoting sustainable practices, and shifting the conversation to environmental efforts. Video harnesses the emotions that will inspire compassion and a sense of responsibility, driving individuals to change behaviours, support relevant initiatives, and advocate for new policies.
Content has the ability to convey complex environmental issues in a visually engaging and accessible manner, but it can also make those stories more personal. When individuals connect with each other through media, issues become less like abstract concepts and more human. Creating a media library that inextricably links the human story to the environmental one means it’s possible to build an emotional resonance which compels viewers to act. Video projects offer a platform for individuals, communities, and organisations, to amplify their voices and share their concerns with a global audience. By localising these stories and then sharing them globally, we can champion the grassroots initiatives driving change. Media has the power to democratise access to information and enables like-minded individuals to connect, collaborate, and advocate for a better future. They just need the technology in place, that goes beyond boundaries to make it happen.