greenwashing

 

Raise awareness, build culture and provide people with correct information about the risks of climate change, without falling into the trap of catastrophism or the even more dangerous snare of scientific technicality”.

These are the main challenges for environmental communication says Sergio Vazzoler, Amapola senior partner and Ferpi delegate for environmental communication, in an article published in the December issue of La Nuova Ecologia, the Legambiente magazine edited by Marco Fratoddi.

“Greenwashing”
by Sergio Vazzoler

Italians appear to be more interested in the opportunities opened up by the green economy than in the risks of global warming. The editorial published by Marco Fratoddi in last month’s issue put the spotlight on the results of the Google search statistics and looked at the possible reasons for the growing public interest in the green economy rather than in climate change.

The finding gives PR specialists pause for thought. And is an invitation for closer examination of a possible alliance among associations, local bodies and media in the interests of better divulgation of environmental issues.

In our view, the phenomenon can be read in two different ways: one is to focus on the differences between the green economy and global warming, the other to regard them as two sides of the same coin. Personally, I prefer the latter approach: fundamentally, the green economy is a positive (and necessary) response to the planet’s deteriorating environmental conditions. Consequently, the trend highlighted by the web searches reflects not so much a general indifference to global warming as a growing propensity to consider practical action. People’s interest in the green economy is an indication of support in principle for the development of a sustainable model and confirmation of a growing awareness of the environmental question: what Massimo Scalìa defines as “eco-pragmatism” should be seen as a positive sign.

And this is where the real challenge for environmental communication lies: to raise awareness, develop culture and provide people with correct information about the risks of climate change, without falling into the trap of catastrophism or the even more dangerous snare of scientific technicality. On the contrary, we need to work on new narrative models capable of conveying key messages, which help people have original and positive experiences and encourage them to become actively involved in constructing the significance of the environmental cause. The task of environmental communication does not end here, however: it should also help the establishment put environmental issues at the top of the agenda and talk about the green economy with global warming in mind. Because what is missing in our national policies is an awareness of how the green economy can be an opportunity if tools to mitigate hydro-geological risks are the starting point. For example, if we want to steer demand for sustainability with “smart” measures for our cities, we cannot contradict these measures with an almost total lack of policies to prevent flooding. To be credible and effective, environmental communication has to be consistent with what we do. Otherwise it is nothing more than greenwashing; but what is at stake here is not the success or failure of a product, but the sustainability of our communities and territory.