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10 Tweets Worth Reading on World Environment Day

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10 Tweets Worth Reading on World Environment Day

Today is the United Nation's World Environment Day, which encourages worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment. It began in 1972 and is widely celebrated in more than 100 countries.

This year's theme—connect people to nature—encourages people to go outside and "breathe in the beauty and remember that by keeping our planet healthy, we keep ourselves healthy too."


Here are 10 #WorldEnvironmentDay tweets worth reading in celebration of this important day:

And, thanks to Food Tank for highlighting these 10 World Environment Day events and initiatives taking place around the world to promote environmental wellness:

1. Celebrating biodiversity with Haikus (New York, USA)

The U.N. Development Program (UNDP) has compiled a collection of 82 haiku poems that celebrate the diversity of life on Earth. Haiku is a traditional form of Japanese poetry that takes nature as its focus, centered around a moment in daily life. Contributed by more than 60 friends, family, and colleagues from UNDP and partners, the publication will be presented at UNDP offices on WED. The publication is also available for free download at the UNDP website.

2. Exhibition: "Butterflies in Aragon" (Zaragoza, Spain)

This exhibition highlights both the beauty of butterfly and moth species found in Aragon, Spain, and the increasing risks that these species and other pollinators currently face. Highlighting the vulnerability of numerous species to the effects of climate change, the exhibition informs visitors of citizen and science efforts to contribute to their conservation.

3. Explore your habitat (worldwide)

U.N. Environment and iNaturalist have partnered to help build the world's largest nature database. They're asking people to get out this WED and record the wonders of biodiversity in their own backyards, to help discover and keep track of precious plants and wildlife. By downloading the iNaturalist app, people can upload their observations to share with the iNaturalist community to help catalogue biological diversity.

4. Free national park visits (Canada)

As host country for this year's WED and as part of the country's 150th Anniversary celebrations, the Canadian government is offering free entry to its national parks, migratory bird sanctuaries, and marine conservation areas. People can also learn about local conservation initiatives and the Ecological Gifts Program, which allows Canadians with ecologically sensitive land to protect nature.

5. King's Cross World Environment Day Event (London, United Kingdom)

A range of activities are taking place for WED at Pancras Square in Kings Cross, London. London Wildlife Trust will be giving tours of Camley Street Natural Park. The University of the Arts London has developed the Deep Time Walk app, taking participants on a 4.6km journey of the Earth's history where each meter represents 1 million years. Tours of Two Pancras Square, one of the U.K.'s most environmentally friendly office buildings, are also available for those interested in sustainable design.

6. Litterati – A Global Cleanup (worldwide)

The Litterati is a global community striving to eradicate litter one piece at a time. By downloading an app, users can identify, collect, and geotag the world's litter, tracking their impact and helping to identify which brands and products are found in specific locations. The Litterati community has mapped and picked up 250,000-plus pieces in 100-plus countries, adding about 5,000 pieces each week.

7. Screening: Racing Extinction (Texas, USA)

To celebrate WED, a free-to-the-public film screening of Racing Extinction is being held at Gilruth Conference Center, Houston, Texas. In Racing Extinction, Oscar-winner Louie Psihoyos assembles a team of artists and activists intent on showing the world never-before-seen images that expose issues of endangered species and mass extinction. Stacy Shutts, Lead for Sustainability at the Johnson Space Center, and Lisa Lin with Rice University will participate in a panel discussion following the film.

8. Web Art Garden (worldwide)

Web Art Garden is an international network of people interested in art, culture, and environmental issues who share experiences from their own ecology through artistic activity. This may include performance, dance, singing, writing, lecture, meditation, and more. Events will be created throughout the world on World Environment Day and shared through the UNEP photo album.

9. World Environment Day Festival (Sunshine Coast, Australia)

Established in 1979 by the Sunshine Coast Environment Council (SCEC), the WorldEnvironment Day Festival in Queensland, Australia, hosts a range of activities to inspire an ecologically responsible lifestyle and connect the community. The festival has grown into the region's biggest environmental event with workshops, art installations, food stalls, and more than forty environment and community groups to connect with and learn from.

10. YogiWalkie (Fégréac, France)

The YogiWalkie is a two-hour hike that combines the techniques of yoga with sensory immersion in nature. Held on June 7, the course weaves through rich forest, waterways, and marshes, highlighting the region's flora and fauna. Emphasizing local biodiversity, the YogieWalkie aims to promote conservation efforts in the region.

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In early October, Britain's Prince William teamed up with conservationist David Attenborough to launch the Earthshot Prize, a new award for environmentalist innovation. The Earthshot brands itself the "most prestigious global environment prize in history."

The world-famous wildlife broadcaster and his royal sidekick appear to have played an active role in the prize's inception, and media coverage has focused largely on them as the faces of the campaign.

But the pair are only the frontmen of a much larger movement which has been in development for several years. In addition to a panel of experts who will decide on the winners, the prize's formation took advice from the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace and the Jack Ma Foundation.

With more and more global attention on the climate crisis, celebrity endorsement of environmental causes has become more common. But why do environmental causes recruit famous faces for their campaigns? And what difference can it make?

'Count Me In'

"We need celebrities to reach those people who we cannot reach ourselves," says Sarah Marchildon from the United Nations Climate Change secretariat (UNFCCC) in Bonn, Germany.

Marchildon is a proponent of the use of celebrities to raise awareness of environmental causes. In addition to promoting a selection of climate ambassadors who represent the UN on sustainability issues, Marchildon's team has produced videos with well-known narrators from the entertainment world: among them, Morgan Freeman and Mark Ruffalo.

"We choose celebrities who have a lifestyle where they are already talking about these issues," Marchildon explains.

"Sometimes they reach out to us themselves, as David Attenborough did recently. And then they can promote the videos on their own social channels which reach more people than we do — for example, if they have 20 million followers and we have 750,000."

Environmental groups focused on their own domestic markets are also taking this approach. One Germany-based organization that uses celebrities in campaigns is the German Zero NGO. Set up in 2019, it advocates for a climate-neutral Germany by 2035.

German Zero produced a video in March 2020 introducing the campaign with "66 celebrities" that supported the campaign, among them Deutschland 83 actor Jonas Nay and former professional footballer Andre Schürrle. They solicit support as well as financial contributions from viewers.

"Count me in," they say, pointing toward the camera. "You too?"

"We are incredibly grateful for the VIPs in our videos," says German Zero spokeswoman Eva-Maria McCormack.

Assessing Success Is Complex

But quantifying the effectiveness of celebrity endorsement of campaigns is not a straightforward process.

"In order to measure effectiveness, first of all you need to define what is meant by success," says Alegria Olmedo, a researcher at the Zoology Department at the University of Oxford.

Olmedo is the author of a study looking at a range of campaigns concerning pangolin consumption, fronted by local and Western celebrities, in Vietnam and China. But she says her biggest stumbling block was knowing how to measure a campaign's success.

"You need a clear theory of change," explains Olmedo. "Have the celebrities actually helped in achieving the campaign's goals? And how do you quantify these goals? Maybe it is increased donations or higher engagement with a cause."

A popular campaign in China in recent years saw famous chefs Zhao Danian and Shu Yi pledge to abstain from cooking endangered wildlife. While the pledge achieved widespread recognition, both Olmedo and Marchildon say it's difficult to know whether it made any difference to people's actions.

"In life we see a thousand messages every day, and it is very hard to pinpoint whether one campaign has actually made a difference in people's behavior," she explains.

Awareness Is Not Enough

Many campaigns that feature celebrities focus on raising awareness rather than on concrete action — which, for researcher Olmedo, raises a further problem in identifying effectiveness.

"Reach should never be a success outcome," she says. "Many campaigns say they reached a certain number of people on social media. But there has been a lot of research that shows that simply giving people information does not mean they are actually going to remember it or act upon it."

But anecdotal evidence from campaigns may suggest reach can make an active difference.

"Our VIP video is by far the most watched on our social media channels," McCormack from German Zero says. "People respond to it very directly. A lot of volunteers of all ages heard about us through that video."

However, some marketing studies have shown that celebrity endorsement of a cause or product can distract from the issue itself, as people only remember the person, not the content of what they were saying.

Choosing the Right Celebrity

Celebrity choice is also very important. Campaigns that use famous faces are often aiming to appeal to members of the public who do not necessarily follow green issues.

For certain campaigns with clear target audiences, choosing a climate scientist or well-known environmentalist rather than a celebrity could be more appealing — Attenborough is a classic example. For others, images and videos involving cute animals may be more likely to get a message heard than attaching a famous face.

"We choose celebrities who have a lifestyle where they are already talking about these issues," says Marchildon from the UN. "You need figures with credibility."

McCormack cites the example of Katharine Hayhoe, an environmental scientist who is also an evangelical Christian. In the southern United States, Hayhoe has become a celebrity in her own right, appealing to an audience that might not normally be interested in the messages of climate scientists.

But as soon as you get a celebrity involved, campaigns also put themselves at risk of the whims of that celebrity. Prince William and younger members of the royal family have come under fire in recent years for alleged hypocrisy for their backing of environmental campaigns while simultaneously using private jets to fly around the world.

But Does It Really Work?

While environmental campaigns hope that endorsement from well-known figures can boost a campaign, there is little research to back this up.

"The biggest finding [from my study] was that we were unable to produce any evidence that shows that celebrity endorsement of environmental causes makes any difference," says Olmedo.

This will come as a blow to many campaigns that have invested time and effort into relationships with celebrity ambassadors. But for many, the personal message that many celebrities offer in videos like that produced by German Zero and campaigns like the Earthshot Prize are what counts.

The research may not prove this conclusively — but if the public believes a person they respect deeply personally cares about an important issue, they are perhaps more likely to care too.

"I personally believe in the power this can have," says Marchildon. "And if having a celebrity involved can get a single 16-year-old future leader thinking about environmentalist issues — that is enough."

Reposted with permission from DW.

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