Getting Decision Makers to the Table: Digestible Facts, a Few Good Friends and Sharing Recipes for Solutions to Climate Change Impacts.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 2:10 PM
Michel Andre Boudrias, University of San Diego, San Diego, CA, United States, Mica Estrada, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, United States, Alexander Gershunov, Univ California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, United States, Nilmini Jeanne Silva-Send, Energy Policy Initiatives Center, Univ of San Diego, San Diego, CA, United States and Emily Young, The San Diego Foundation, San Diego, CA, United States
Decision makers and community leaders are key audiences to engage in our efforts to improve climate literacy. Climate Education Partners has been working with business leaders, elected officials, tribal leaders, and other Key Influentials in the San Diego Region to enhance the channels of communication outside traditional settings. Over the past year we have interviewed over 90 Key Influential San Diego leaders asking them about their knowledge of climate change and their personal and professional efforts to adapt to and/or mitigate the impacts of climate change. We also engaged them directly in the creation of an innovative educational resource called “San Diego, 2050 is Calling. How will we answer?” Results of the interviews indicate that 90% of these leaders are concerned about climate change, more than 50% are already doing something about the impacts, and the majority of them want more information, greater dialogue and examples of actions taken by other community leaders. We found that repeated engagement of leaders at the San Diego County Water Authority went from basic collaboration in our water tours, to greater participation of their top leaders in a water tour for top decision makers from the City of San Diego, finally culminating with full support of and participation in the 2050 report. The 2050 report represents an integrated approach blending local climate change science, social science education theory and presentation of a suite of solution-driven opportunities for local leaders. The report includes science infographics that illustrate rigorous scientific facts, statements from expert scientists and direct quotes from decision makers, and examples of successful climate change adaptation actions from companies, government groups and others. The video and photography sessions for the 2050 report led to many unexpected discussion among leaders with differing opinions on climate change, greater enthusiasm to participate in outreach activities with other leaders and an increased willingness to share their successes publicly. Climate Education Partners is finding that linking excellent local science with healthy community dialogue is resulting in San Diego leaders and their communities making more informed decisions on how to adapt to climate change now and for all future generations.