Working with social media today you learn to say the most important thing first, before current average attention span (3 seconds) has dwindled. The We Love Cities campaign of 2018 gathered over 50,000 votes for participating cities sustainability initiatives, and 50,000 citizen suggestions to further accelerate change. Now running for the fifth time, the campaign is bigger than it ever was. It has an accumulated a social media reach of 100 million, and WWF together with the participating 50 cities reached 6.5 million post reactions (likes). Communicators’ aim is to reach people so numbers are what’s important.
What about love? Isn’t that important?
On the other hand, numbers are for the mind, and as communicators we need to speak to the heart. So maybe we should have started by telling you how We Love Cities connects people by the love they feel for the place they call home. The cities that participate all get their own hashtag, #WeLoveSantiago, #WeLoveTokyo, #WeLoveLosMochis, etc for all our 50 cities. The campaign centres around these hashtags as cities compete to see who can rally the most support. This love unifies and support is broad, way beyond the usual sustainability suspects. To a postmodern hipster it may seem shallow, but in many parts of the world place matters, and so does showing it off.
And in case you remember all the hassle about disconnecting from your devices, and cutting back on flying….where does that leave you, if not firmly rooted @home.
But the world is in a devastating place….
There is an island of plastic debris in the Mediterranean, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. Icebergs themselves are melting faster than ever before, while farmers in Sweden are slaughtering their livestock due to drought. It takes the bravest of us to even open the internet in the morning. Love will not solve a thing you may say….so then maybe the most important would be to explain that all cities on board are finalists in WWF’s One Planet City Challenge (OPCC). Their goals have been reported on a globally-recognized city reporting platform and verified by an international jury of experts. The OPCC is a way to have cities show leadership on their efforts to align with the Paris Agreement’s goal of staying well below 2°C, or better 1.5°C, of maximum global warming, and for cities to serve as examples to scale-up national ambition and commitment to act on climate change. As of the next OPCC round in 2019-2020, participating cities will need to comply with science-based trajectories in line with keeping the world at a 1.5°C temperature rise. And many of them already are!
What really does steal our hearts though…
…is waking up every morning to our cities posting in our online campaign hub photos of citizens engaging in beach cleanings, taking to their bikes to protest against air pollution, buying food in an organic local market, and selfies upon selfies of happy citizens writing their sustainability suggestions on our platform, or forming a large heart in the city square in honor of sustainability.
So maybe I should have led with that. No matter how ambitious climate leadership is on our planet, it will fall short if citizens don’t support it.
And we should be very careful to treat citizen engagement with the respect it deserves, let it strengthen you, and let it be the one thing that tilts us over into hope. <3
We Love Cities is a WWF campaign designed by Futerra.
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