Two months ago we gathered in Baltimore for the second Communicating Climate Change Summit! The National Aquarium was thrilled to host more than 80 delegates from aquariums, zoos, NOAA and marine conservation organizations from around the US and as far away as Hong Kong. From our wonderful and interactive icebreaker evening at the Aquarium, through the keynote talk featuring our tag team of CEOs Bud Ris and John Racanelli, to all the amazing working sessions and panels—participants were energized about the topic and each other.
John Raccanelli of the National Aquarium
Summit attendees brought updates from their own organizations on their challenges and triumphs in communicating climate change with their audiences, and left the meeting with renewed commitments and pledges to work even harder. And it didn’t hurt that the weather was fantastic, enabling participants to get to know the Fells Point area of Baltimore. The lunchtime cruise around the Inner Harbor to discuss mitigation for sea level rise (a potential situation that all our cities need to plan for) was an interesting twist on a popular tourist activity.
Results from the post conference survey let the Summit Steering Committee know what went well, and what participants are looking for in the future. One highlight included the interactive posters, which offered a new way of sharing and sparking discussion. Most everyone felt that they were a great icebreaker and generated good conversation throughout the meeting. A few participants felt they were challenging to create and needed more glitter glue.
When asked to describe favorite speakers or sessions, the two panel discussions rose to the top, along with other dynamic speakers:
- "The keynote addresses by John and Bud were great. It is always great to hear from CEOs about why what we're doing matters. And the session with Denver Zoo, Greensburg, and Maryland climate change preparedness. The real world heroes are great to hear from. I also really appreciated hearing how they were never mandated to do what they're doing and they don't necessarily need validation to just do it."
- "Denver Zoo + Greenboro, KS--focus on sustainability at Zoo/community level as POSITIVE, HOPEFUL, HEALING and EMPOWERING--great future-focused program, very inspiring."
- "CEOS and getting on board with CC with boards, etc. This gave me useful tools that I have applied RIGHT AWAY!!! We are moving right along here with this very helpful boost."
- "Catherine Hart of Greentown—loved her! Very inspiring CEO of National Aquarium—felt he sent a good message in telling us to be courageous. It’s good to hear from a leader—means he understands it’s not easy but it must be done and he is supportive."
- "Alejandro Grajal's CLiZEN presentation.... he is a great and passionate speaker, so it was an inspiring and informative session."
- "I thought Bud Ris was inspired and inspiring; Catherine Hart's story was quite amazing; Jennifer Hale's description of the Denver Zoo initiative was food for thought."
- "Bud Ris & John Racanelli because they were heads of their organization totally on board and in support of their aquariums and staff on climate issues. Catherine Hart - AWESOME! Different than what we usually focus on and a great reminder of what is possible."
- "Hard to pinpoint, but the overall structure, tone, flow and cohesion of all 3 days was exceptional. Excellent moderators, great diversity of messages, all great speakers."
Looking Ahead to What's Next
The interactive poster session was a hit!
The survey also asked for descriptions of sessions that did not work for participants. Happily, there were no glaring problems, but the programs did lose some participants in the break-out group discussions and during the regional group discussions. For notes from the breakout sessions, please visit this resource page.
Finally, and most importantly, when asked “What can the coalition do to help you continue your great work?”, answers included:
- "Please keep up the encouragement and your connection to us. We all try very hard in our careers, and it is good to know that we are validated and supported in our efforts, and that we believe in each other and what we are doing to make our planet a healthier place for all."
- "Keep the network going, work on a cohesive outreach/marketing campaign that has a unified message."
- "Keep facilitating communication and networking among partners (especially by geographic regions)."
- "Keep meetings like this happening. It is a great way to re-energize on the topic and keep new ideas coming!"
- "Please continue to provide a place and space for us to come together as practitioners and collaborate face to face!"
- "I really enjoy the webinars on climate interpreter... keep them coming! Keep the dialogs going through climateinterpreter.org. and whenever feasible through face to face meetings."
- "Share success stories of all types (cc/oa solutions, success with efforts to communicate cc/oa, etc). Continue to engage leadership - leverage peer pressure to get all AZA institutions more involved and get more buy-in at executive / board levels."
It is clear that this coalition of aquariums, zoos, marine conservation groups and agency partners are eager to continue working together. ClimateInterpreter.org has grown as the hub of communication, peer-reviewed resources and webinars, however, it is only as good as the information submitted by members of the coalition. As participants in the Summit, we all made pledges for continued action, however, the pledges cannot happen in a vacuum. We must all continue to reach out, post, call, e-mail, blog, tweet and talk face-to-face to keep the momentum going. So, don’t be a stranger… please stay in touch!
Nancy Hotchkiss, National Aquarium
Cynthia Vernon, Monterey Bay Aquarium
Bill Spitzer, New England Aquarium