The media, which helps people to create and support ideas, also appears as a power that directs the society. It affects the way we behave. It is changing the traditional roles and operations of institutions. Providing accurate and solution-oriented information, designing and presenting media formats that have the potential to influence people play an important role in promoting changes in society.
With the power of communication, we can establish civilizations, create new spaces, change the existing order, and provide solutions to social problems. At the summit held in Rio in 2012, problems such as poverty, inequalities, and climate crisis were collected under the title of Sustainable Development Goals and the solution of these problems was aimed until 2030. The more visible and talkative we make the solutions, the more we can encourage governments, public and private sector institutions to be responsible, and the closer we get to the solutions of the problems. So, how will we communicate to make these solutions visible? Turkey’s first sustainability-focused, green business and lifestyle magazine Editor in Chief EKOIQ should pay attention to what we asked for effective communication of Peace Towards sustainability communicators.
“Sustainability has a very complex theoretical and practical background”
In fact, the answer to this question is not as complex as it might seem. Whatever a true communicator needs to pay attention to, just pay attention to them. The real problem; I think it lies in our lack of a proper, meaningful, contemporary and true answer to what a true communicator should pay attention to.
It might sound like a complicated answer, but it’s actually not. The root of this answer lies in my understanding of sustainability. So let’s open this up a little bit …
Sustainability has a very complex theoretical and practical background. I say past, but nothing goes. This complexity is not only a problem of the past but also of the present, as it has not been well analyzed and analyzed.
Transmission or communication?
My answer is plain and simple: Sustainability is the search for an answer to the huge problems that civilization posed but could not solve. Hence, the effort to respond to all of the deeds of humanity, the problems between itself and nature (which also breed each other), and therefore the effort to define and create a new civilization. You can see this better when you look at the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Apart from these 17 goals, does civilization have a problem? No, because these purposes are too extensive to leave anything out.
Therefore; There is a separate problem in each part of a civilization whose foundations and assumptions are rotten. Communication is one of them (whether individual, citizen to citizen, institutional, institutions to individuals, or institutions to institutions). We are talking about “Communication”, which plays an important role in creating a new modern civilization by getting rid of the traditional structures of humanity. From this great humanitarian action, which is called communication, but actually often happens as “transmission.” In fact, even when you look at it only grammatically, the fact that the name of this field is “communication” not “transmission” is sufficient to show that reciprocity, interaction and dialogue are essential and indispensable features.
But the word is one thing, the job is different. A whole history of communication can be read as a history of monologues in this sense. It has been the science of developing “silver bullets” that will hit, deceive and persuade the target audience, the main body of communication. The point we have come together with the propagandists, spin doctors, PRs and advertisers of this communication world, who knit a steel armor so that the words of critical thoughts and trends do not leave the slightest trace, is a planet struggling with 1.5 degrees warming in the physical field, inter-human beings. In the relationship, there was “post-truth” unfortunately… What else could be left of so much lies and manipulation!
Our subject is human!
So the first question is, “What should communicators pay attention to for effective sustainability communication?” Even if we exclude “sustainability” from the question, not much changes. Maybe we can even throw away the “effective”. The question is easier to understand: What should we pay attention to for communication?
Maybe we can start by realizing that there are subjects in front of us… By understanding that people are not passive objects to take pills. Therefore, by realizing that our work is based on dialogue, not monologue… And then with the fact that we don’t know everything right; Perhaps we can continue by realizing that our truths do not have to be everyone’s truth.
Then maybe we can see that people (employees, consumers, stakeholders, civil society, citizens, whatever you put in here) can have knowledge and experience above our estimates when the right tools and channels are created.
Therefore, we can perhaps see at this point that communication is not a constantly speaking mouth, but an ear that can listen and understand very carefully. I think it is possible for us to see that a true communication is learning as well as teaching.
And at the end of this whole journey, maybe new horizons may open before us. And in those new horizons, maybe we can start talking at another level about employee or customer engagement, innovation, sustainability, efficiency and reputation. And maybe the real work will start then, when we can really communicate…
Views expressed here Sustainability Steps Association belongs to. Hence in no way Consulate General of the Netherlands can not be considered as official opinions of.