Communicate 2021: On the Road to COP15 and COP26

Communicate 2021 is less than a month away and our programme is shaping up nicely.  Here’s CEO Savita Willmott with the lowdown on what to expect from this year’s conference:

The Conference is called ‘On the Road to COP15 and COP26’ how are those two events shaping the programme this year?    

One of our guiding principles for programming Communicate has always been to focus on communication and engagement topics and skills.

It’s an approach that works, and it’s what makes the conference so popular so that remains the same. But, we also know that many organisations are focusing their efforts towards the big international meetings in the Autumn.

So, the plan is to weave into the programme discussion and reflection on how those events, and the decisions leaders might take, may impact our future engagement strategies. We’ll also take a look at some of the other innovative and inspirational projects taking place alongside those conferences.

We’ve deliberately put this event in September so we have the opportunity to help prepare and support communicators over the next couple of months.  And then we’ll be bringing people back together in January for a recap and review of what the international declarations mean for local action.

What can people expect?

Our headline panel session, “Nature Uniting a Divided Britain” is going to look closely at the societal factors impact our communications work.  And on day two we’re honoured to be partnering with Bristol Ideas, PEN International and the Earth Journalism Network to host a special panel exploring the challenges faced by environmental communicators in different parts of the world.

We have a series of briefing sessions – these cover topics that we know from past experience people welcome an update on. It’s the chance to get a quick download on the latest developments and thinking in certain areas.

We’re also really excited about our Skills Box sessions. We’ve got some amazing trainers and experts delivering these sessions which are an opportunity to learn new skills, brush up on techniques or get the latest insight into best practice in environmental comms.

We know that training can often be long, expensive, or sometimes not focussed enough on our needs as environmental communicators. We hope everyone will dip into the Skills Box at some point, although we know some delegates are already planning to join them all!

Of course we’re online again this year, we’d love to see people in person but we also know that the virtual element has been really accessible for people.  We’ve made sure we’ve provided loads of opportunities for small groups and one to one discussions.  Last year’s event went really well, with many delegates saying that they felt they were able to connect with even more people than they had at in-person events, so we hope that people don’t feel they are missing out.

Why is Communicate so important and why should people come along?

I think the sector is faced with a dual challenge right now – certainty about the challenges facing the natural world and the environment more broadly, and uncertainty about a number of external factors in our sector. A number of organisations are still recovering from the impacts of Covid-19, others will be waiting for crucial decisions to be made at COP15 and COP26.

On top of that we’ve all had a difficult, fractured year, so we think it’s really important to offer people a chance to come together and learn from each other, but also support each other.

We know that one of the things that people value about Communicate is the broad cross-section of environmental communicators who attend.  We’re all working towards the same aim, to engage people with the natural world, and though there are specialists conferences for scientists, filmmakers or visitor centres Communicate offers a unique opportunity to cross-fertilise ideas.

What are you most excited about?

I’m really looking forward to our “in conversation” sessions, and I even have the honour of hosting one of the conversations myself. Panel sessions are great for exploring a range of views of thorny topics and it’s brilliant to be able to do a deep dive with varied voices in our field. We like be brave and not just ask CEO’s and senior leaders, we know that often the most useful and innovative voices and ideas can come from any level of an organisation.

Communicate 2021, On the Road to COP15 and COP 26 is taking place on 14 and 15 September.  Passes are just £25 and available here: