Comparing Lessons Learned

By Jennifer Roberts

Happy Earth Day! Yes, we can still talk about caring for our planet in the midst of a pandemic. In fact, there are lessons to learn from effective preparation and resilience, both for climate impacts and for pandemics. The success of our response builds on the strength of our communities, and ongoing community engagement that lays the groundwork for residents to come together with shared values and a common goal.  We are grateful for the mayors and governors who are stepping up as trusted messengers, building community cohesion in the face of incredible challenges.

Recently I joined a webinar sponsored by the Southeast New England Program (SNEP), a network of environmental organizations, academic institutions, regional planners, and consultants who work collaboratively to provide local expertise within the watershed of the southeastern New England states.  The network provides access for municipalities, tribes, and organizations to technical assistance and training to advance stormwater management, ecological restoration, and climate resilience within the region. Their mission is to achieve healthy watersheds and long term climate resilience through effective management of stormwater and restoration projects.

The webinar I joined was part of a series entitled “COVID-19 Preparedness and Recovery.”  This discussion emphasized the importance of inclusive public engagement and communications in climate action and solutions, and looked at how engagement during the COVID-19 crisis has provided lessons for communities. The SNEP promotion read as follows:

Comparing Messenging and Messengers from COVID-19 and Climate Change: What messaging is successfully resonating with the general public on preparedness?  Why are some of the COVID-19 communications efforts working, while others not?  And how do these efforts relate to some of the lessons we’ve learned over the past decade in climate change related communications?  Join us for a discussion featuring science communication experts and seasoned local government leaders.


Joanne Throwe, President, Throwe Environmental

Daniel Kreeger, Executive Director, Association of Climate Change Officers (ACCO)

Jennifer Roberts, Director, Path to Positive Communities, ecoAmerica ( 58th Mayor of Charlotte)

Many thanks to the SNEP network and to my fellow panelists Dan Kreeger and Joanne Throwe for organizing this webinar.  If you want to hear some answers to the questions above, and understand more about the importance of effective and inclusive public engagement in times of crisis, you can listen to the broadcast at the following link (and be sure to do something nice for the Earth today – it needs it!) :


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