The Agenda | Vol. 40 | Brave new world

by the Global Impact Relations Network

JULY 28, 2021 | THE AGENDA VOL. 40

Showing the world how impactful storytelling drives behavior

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Image: Canadian Geographic 

Taking into account a deadly, unprecedented heat wave, an ocean on fire, and a surge in variant-related coronavirus hospitalizations, this summer has felt a bit like we’re living in a dystopian novel. And as a record number of active wildfires blanketed cities across the continent in their smoke, two of three billionaires with space aspirations made their first big expeditions. 

With climate anxiety at an all-time high and the life-or-death implications of wealth inequality becoming more apparent with each extreme weather event, communications that are empathetic, thought-provoking and action-inspiring have never been more important. Here’s a look at how some of the most consequential stories of the summer are landing. (See what we did there?)

SDGs covered in this issue:

An inconvenient truth

Image: Science Magazine

The developing world is no longer shouldering the worst effects of climate change alone. “Wildfire season” has become a thing in North America, with smoke blanketing cities thousands of miles away and casting an eerie red glow over the sun and the moon. Deadly flash-floods in Europe have dispelled any notion that a warmer climate and an influx of climate refugees will be the only consequences there. This Changes Everything author Naomi Klein recently penned an Op-Ed for The Intercept exploring our changing understanding of who is safe in the climate emergency, and why trying to sell space as a dumping ground for polluting industry isn’t such a novel idea. In the four days since being published, the article has amassed more than 4,000 social media impressions.

The Intercept: Stuck in the Smoke as Billionaires Blast Off

A crash course in communicating with empathy

Image: Toronto Star

In the wake of a record-shattering heat wave that killed 486 people, British Columbia Premier John Horgan came under fire for his lack of gravitas after suggesting that those who succumbed to the 40+ celsius heat, many of whom were seniors and people with disabilities, were at fault for not taking their own precautions. The “heat dome” that settled over the region created the conditions for a fire that decimated the small town of Lytton and resulted in a mass die-off of marine life. When asked at a press conference if he’d done enough to prepare the province, Horgan said “…fatalities are a part of life…it was apparent to everyone who walked out of doors that we were in an unprecedented heat wave. There’s a level of personal responsibility.” Horgan later walked back his statement, but the comments blew up internationally, inspiring articles in the Guardian, Slate, and the Independent

Slate: Lethal heat wave is the latest public health crisis to be blamed on its victims.

The world reacts to space race 2021

Image: CNBC

As Amazon founder Jeff Bezos celebrated becoming the second of three billionaires to achieve their dreams of space flight, journalists, social commentators and meme creators flooded the internet with their reactions, which ranged from inspiration to cynical laughter. While some noted that every great innovation happens incrementally, others pointed out that celebrated missions from the past were manned by astronauts who devoted their lives to space exploration as a means of better understanding our planet, rather than the few who could afford to build their own rockets. Others still mused that Bezos’ and Branson’s voyages would not have been possible if they were made to pay taxes like average citizens. 

Newsweek: Twitter Criticizes Jeff Bezos’ ‘Joyride’ Space Flight With #TaxTheRich

From the Impact Relations Community…

August Impact Council

Save the date: our next Impact Council will be on Wednesday, August 18 @ noon ET. Our guests will be the authors of Truth Be Told. John O’Brien (also author of Power of Purpose) and David Gallagher will be talking about purpose washing and much more. An official invite will be coming soon.

Stay up to date on our monthly Impact Councils by pledging to our community. Past speakers include communications leads from Levi Strauss, Ben & Jerrys, KIND Snacks and Fjällräven. You can replay previous Impact Councils here.

Open Volunteer Opportunity: Associate Board Member

Are you a professional communicator looking to join a board, expand your network, and gain experience in the social impact sector? Are you on a mission to use your powers of persuasion to create positive change? We need you! The Global Impact Relations Network (GIRN) is seeking out one volunteer to join its Marketing Communications Committee as an Associate Board member – more info here.



Thanks for reading,

— Ashley Letts, Managing Editor


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