9 Best Practices for Engaging the Public on Climate-Related Flood Risks

Flood preparednessClimate change is causing more frequent and intense flooding in many parts of the world. A peer-reviewed study linked warming temperatures to the devastating floods that happened in Texas and Oklahoma this past May. As these events become more common, how can we engage the public about the risks and help them prepare for impacts?
 
A new report from Climate Outreach and Cardiff University offers nine best practices for communicating flood risks. Their research was partly inspired by the severe winter that struck the United Kingdom in 2013/2014, causing heavy flooding and disrupting thousands of lives.
 
Like ecoAmerica, Climate Outreach is focused on building widespread acceptance of the need to tackle climate change. Co-founder George Marshall and Executive Director Jamie Clarke are on our MomentUs Research Council. Their new resource is intended not only to improve local resilience to impacts, but also to develop more productive conversations about climate change. Though Climate Outreach is located in the UK, these nine principles can be applied to communities around the world.
 
Very briefly, here are the nine principles for public engagement:
 
1. Climate scientists can quantify whether flooding events are made more or less likely in a changing climate.
 
2. There is growing evidence that flooding and climate change are linked in the public mind.
 
3. Conversations about climate change should ideally happen before (not during) flood events.
 
4. Communication and engagement around flood events must be carried out sensitively, to avoid backfiring.
 
5. Statistics and accurate scientific data are crucial, but trusted “peer” messengers and personal stories are vital for achieving public engagement.
 
6. Flooding and climate impacts cannot be separated from the wider social context that determines communities’ abilities to cope with stress and trauma.
 
7. Communities that have been affected multiple times offer powerful opportunities for learning (but also have a right to forget).
 
8. It’s important to strike the right balance between the “local” and “global” aspect of flooding as a climate impact.
 
9. Communications should empower people to respond and adapt to future flood risks by focusing on preparedness and support.
 
Click here to download the full report.
 

New Report & Webinar: Communicating Flood Risks in a Changing Climate

Climate Outreach and Cardiff University
 
How can we engage individuals and communities more effectively around flood risks in a changing climate?
 
Two years on from the wettest winter on record, a new report identifies 9 principles for communicating about flooding in a changing climate.
 
It is a collaboration between Climate Outreach and Cardiff University, supported by the ESRC, the Climate Change Consortium of Wales and the Sustainable Places Research Institute.
 
The report represents a powerful statement from a diverse cross-section of experts. It is the result of a workshop which brought together key voices on communicating flood risks including 27 climate scientists, social scientists, representatives from major NGOs and national policy makers who have endorsed the report.
 
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