Innovation and Collaboration at the Sun Valley Forum on Resilience
How can we get ahead of the risks posed by climate change, while at the same time turning the challenges into opportunities to create a better world?
Those are the questions behind the Sun Valley Forum on Resilience, which took place July 10-12 in Sun Valley, Idaho. Hosted by the Sun Valley Institute and co-convened with Green Biz and Confluence Philanthropy, the Forum brought together around 300 global innovators in investment, policy, business, nonprofits, and academia.
Sustainability strategy expert Aimée Christensen, who sits on our Board of Directors, is the executive director of the Sun Valley Institute for Resilience. In her opening address at the Forum, she helped make climate impacts personal by pointing out that Sun Valley’s greatest assets – its scenic beauty and fame as a winter sports capital – are under threat. She then pivoted to climate solutions, explaining that solar energy offers “a real opportunity to put the sun in Sun Valley.”
On day three of the Forum, ecoAmerica founder and CEO Bob Perkowitz took the stage for a session entitled Engaging Society: Do People Care? Can They? Can We Make a Difference? Among the other speakers was race car driver and eco-hero Leilani Münter, who has been featured in this blog before (we are big fans).
Bob’s presentation focused on how we can empower people to actually move towards climate solutions. He emphasized that communications need to be about “us,” not “you,” in order to change the issue from a special interest to a relevant public interest. He drew a parallel to the marriage equality movement, which became successful when the message shifted from “gay people should have the right to marry” to “gay couples and straight couples share the same values of love and commitment.”
Bob also mentioned that in order to create real impact, we have to change institutions and infrastructure. He pointed out that ecoAmerica is helping some of the largest organizations in the country take action on climate, by creating permission and space for leaders within the organization to take a stand. For instance, we recently partnered with the American Public Health Association on a series of webinars about the health impacts of climate change. And our Blessed Tomorrow partner the African Methodist Episcopal Church passed a Climate Change Resolution at their 50th General Conference last week.
Psychographic and social science research are important components of our work at ecoAmerica. Bob highlighted some of our key findings (for example, that people tend to follow their tribe when making decisions), and explained how that research informed our recent communication guides.
Bob wrapped up his speech with this statement: “The first thing you have to do if you care about climate change is to lead by example. The second thing you have to do is talk about it, and the third thing you have to do is collaborate – we’ve all got to work together a little bit more.”
If you’d like to join our network of leaders working together on climate, check out our sector-based programs: Blessed Tomorrow, Climate for Health, and Path to Positive Communities.
Videos of the Forum sessions may be viewed on the Sun Valley Institute for Resilience Facebook page.