In today’s world saturated with media and entertainment, our daily encounters shape our mindset towards a certain lifestyle and mentality. This not only influences what we buy and wear but also how we perceive the world around us. But have you ever wondered about the dynamic role culture and entertainment play in steering climate action? It’s not as tricky as it sounds. Remember the cartoon “Popeye the Sailor“? It made eating spinach look cool as his main source of superpower, which influenced millions of children to see vegetables in a positive light. Through entertaining storytelling, it effectively conveyed the message that healthy eating can be enjoyable and beneficial. In the same way, we can encourage climate action and sustainable choice as the new cool trend to follow. This optimism and drive to make a change have paved the way for the emergence of the Entertainment + Culture Pavilion at COP28 this year with a particular focus on the unique relationship between- culture, entertainment, and climate.
To take the ever-evolving landscape of climate activism one step ahead, artists and performers have united with their creative force that mobilizes grassroots movements. This collaboration, born from a diverse community, holds the potential to spark real change. How, you ask? Let’s hear from seven passionate voices shaping the crossroads of entertainment + culture and climate action.
The Power Creative of Collaboration
Science and Data are crucial when advocating for climate action. Yet, to inspire action, Jessica Kleczka, Climate Psychologist and Activist emphasizes on incorporating the magic ingredient: CREATIVITY! She believes that by harnessing the power of creative collaborations, grassroots movements can propel climate messages into the mainstream, fostering a collective recognition of everyone’s role in building a sustainable future.
“Creativity has the potential to supercharge our campaigns, break echo chambers and reach audiences who care about the state of the planet but lack a powerful message they can identify with”Jessica Kleczka
In her opinion, incredible groups like Climate Live are harnessing the power of music to engage a greater audience in campaigns like Stop Rosebank, fighting the largest undeveloped oil field in the UK. In recent conversations with Green & Beyond Mag, Kleczka dished out some insights on how creativity can play a major role in boosting our efforts against climate change. She pointed to research suggesting that there’s a goldmine of untapped potential in using creativity for climate action. From her own experiences, she shared how teaming up with influencers and celebrities can be a game-changer, with campaigns blowing up and petitions scoring big when backed by music and sports big shots.
“Social influence is the number one factor determining whether a person acts on the climate crisis, and creatives are uniquely situated to shape what that influence looks like.” – Jessica Kleczka
In line with this, Mitzi Jonelle Tan, Youth Advocate for Climate Action Philippines has reflected on the intrinsic connection between entertainment + culture collaborations and the ability to construct a vision of a better world. She points out the power of culture to unite diverse communities against profit-oriented global systems. As she puts it, “Cultural and entertainment collaborations are so crucial because they can reach new audiences and bring more people into the climate movement.”
According to her, these collaborations are like VIP passes to reaching fresh audiences and getting more people on board in the climate movement. Not only that, but she sees them as essential in constructing the better world that’s living rent-free in our minds and hearts.
“Once we have an idea in the grasp of the joy and love in the safety, and the softness that we could be having in a better and cleaner future, it’s a lot easier for us to keep fighting no matter what, and culture and entertainment has the amazing power to build all this in our minds & in our hearts.“– Mitzi Jonelle Tan
Edwin Namakanga, Climate Justice Activist from Uganda pointed out the transformative power that talented artists and performers hold in influencing change. In his words, “Talented artists and performers possess a unique ability to influence, inspire, and effect change.” Their reach, whether on stage, screen, or in concerts, is expansive, making them potent advocates for addressing climate change issues.
Namakanga advocates for the integration of environmental messages into their art, seeing it as a catalyst for a movement towards sustainable living. He believes that collaboration with existing climate action advocates further amplifies the message and enhances public understanding of the critical need for action.
“It’s important to remember that artists and performers are not just entertainers; they are an integral part of our culture and their creations shape our perceptions. Their art can catalyze a movement, spark action, and be remembered in history.”– Edwin Namakanga
Transforming Narratives for Climate Action through Entertainment + Culture
In terms of creative collaborations, Natalie Chung, Climate Advocate and Entrepreneur from Hong Kong also emphasized on creating new imaginaries of sustainable futures through culture and entertainment. In her opinion, we have all the technologies to solve climate change, the only thing lacking is the political will to implement solutions with long-term benefits. For her, entertainment + culture are powerful tools to drive climate action optimistically and create hope. As a personal experience, Natalie talked about the Antarctic Climate Expedition with Dr. Sylvia Earle where they created an Antarctic Rhapsody that was performed on the icy continent in front of calving icebergs and also used as the background music for their Antarctic documentary. This is how incorporating music and artistic mediums can be a great use to unite humanity to dream and construct a hopeful future through collective action.
She encourages artists to use their creative mediums uniting humanity to dream and construct a hopeful future through collective action.
“If we intend to tackle the greatest challenges like the climate crisis, we need to change our view of human nature, believing that we are born with goodwill instead of selfishness. Through artistic mediums, we are presented with a window to gaze into the past, present and future climate scenarios.”– Natalie Chung
On the other hand, Isaias Hernandez, Environmental Educator and Creative highlighted the storytelling role of grassroots climate activism and the transformative power of entertainment + culture. He recognizes the challenges of social media fatigue and time constraints but sees an opportunity to leverage creative mediums like music, talent, photography, and video to build a narrative of an ecological future where every community member can share their story.
For Hernandez, stories are the glue that binds people together, keeping culture vibrant and thriving.
“Stories are what keep people together, they allow for culture to be alive and to thrive.”Isaias Hernandez
He also believes that artists possess a unique power to influence culture and captivate minds with a single stroke of a paintbrush, a note of a song, a structural design, or a rhythm. According to him, the general citizen doesn’t need to be an expert in climate science to grasp the peril their ecosystem faces and the urgency for community support.
Hernandez calls for scientists to embrace their inner artists, communicating differently to bridge the gap between complex scientific information and public understanding. He recognizes performers for their ability to balance the nuanced challenges of conveying both the grim reality and advocating for solutions, emphasizing that collective suffering can pave the way for the emergence of effective strategies.
Cultural Roots: Entertainment + Culture as Activism
Niharika Elety, Climate Activist and Sustainable Fashion Designer points out the roots of grassroots climate activism in cultural protest, emphasizing the profound impact of art, music, and fashion in conveying climate advocacy messages.
“The origins of grassroots climate activism are rooted in cultural protest. From art to music, and fashion, songs, paintings and fabrics all have climate advocacy messages threaded through.”Niharika Elety
Elety envisions collaborations through music, film, art, and literature as powerful tools to simplify complex environmental topics, fostering a deeper understanding and urgency for climate action. Elety encourages artists to infuse pro-environmental themes into their work, recognizing the potential of storytelling to evoke emotions, spark conversations, and drive meaningful engagement with climate issues. Drawing inspiration from figures like Bob Marley, Joni Mitchell, and Michael Jackson, she underscores how celebrities can be influential advocates, inspiring fans to adopt eco-friendly lifestyles and actively support grassroots initiatives. Moreover, she notes that cultural collaborations extend beyond individual behavior change, contributing to increased funding and support for grassroots organizations.
Art for Change: Connecting Diverse Audiences
To paint the whole scenario, Melissa Tan, Climate Action and Sustainability Advocate from Malaysia conceptualized activism as a personal journey for everyone, not just activists; urging everyone to act for the world they want to see. She stresses the importance of contextualizing activism for each person, making it accessible through things they resonate with and showcasing how and where they can influence. According to her, the key lies in connecting the dots through various forms of art and creation.
Tan believes in the infinite possibilities that art offers, reaching individuals in ways that cold data cannot.
“It’s connecting the dots through art and creation in all forms. The possibilities are infinite and it reaches a person in ways that cold data cannot. We must use every tool in our chest.”– Melissa Tan
Her message to artists and performers is a straightforward call to action – either speak for the planet or perpetuate the norm, as they are inherently standing for something, whether intentional or not. Tan encourages tapping into the intrinsic love shared by all human beings – the connection to our living planet and between all living things. This, she believes, is a journey of self-discovery that can help individuals find parts of themselves while fostering a deeper connection to the Earth.
Here’s the simple truth..
Entertainment + culture are not just things we enjoy; they’re tools we can all use to make a real impact on the urgent issue of climate change. Whether you’re a writer, artist, singer, actor, or someone who appreciates the arts, your unique talents have the power to inspire action. Because these conversations are the beginning of tangible climate action, and taking care of our planet is something we can all get behind. Let’s harness the universal language of culture and entertainment to drive change, one creative expression at a time, for a better, more sustainable future.
Written by Nawar N. Khan (Raeesa) and Maesha Nawreen