How do you make someone care? – Connecting people to the Ocean

Venn diagram of community and conservation from OCT strategy document designed by Leap

The Big Blue is indeed both big and blue. For a long time, humanity thought the Ocean was so big that we would never reach the limit of being able to take things out or throw things in. But now we know better. We see the extinction of species, declining seagrasses, communities affected by rising sea levels and pollution, the ever-growing scourge of single-use plastic and the detrimental effects of Ocean acidification.

Yes, we all know this by now. But unless you live near the sea or spend time in or around it, it can seem like an abstract issue. Here in Cornwall, we are fortunate enough to be surrounded by the ocean. Which means we’re all too aware of the problems that it’s facing, and how the health of the ocean affects us and basically every living thing on the planet.

So when the Ocean Conservation Trust (OCT) approached us about working with them on their strategy for the next five years – five because we don’t have ten. We leapt at the opportunity (pun very much intended).

We previously worked with them on their Blue Meadows seagrass restoration project on brand strategy, naming, brand identity and animations as well as designing and hosting their  low carbon website.

Hermit crab on top of seagrass planting back on the ocean floor

What exactly is Ocean Conservation?

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that although science is part of it, conservation is not just something that is just done by scientists or conservationists – everyone can get involved in protecting and restoring the environment.

“We consider Ocean conservation to be any act that positively influences Ocean health, with the ultimate goal of establishing and maintaining a healthy Ocean.”

– The Ocean Conservation Trust

OCT logo mark on tinted landscape photo background

Getting the community on board

The strategy we helped communicate together with the OCT emphasises the importance of engaging with communities and empowering them to be part of the solution. This is a key part for us when working with conservation and charity sector clients – to consider how we can help the client engage with their communities and involve them in their work.

Another key point from the Ocean Conservation Trust’s strategy is the importance of positive action and optimism. A study published by The Lancet found that 84% of children and young adults ages 16 to 25 are at least moderately worried about climate change, and 59% are very or extremely worried.

There’s no denying that things are looking pretty bleak on the climate front. When you talk about things like conservation and climate, it’s hard not to get bogged down with the negative impact we’re having on the environment. While you do need to acknowledge it, it’s also important to highlight the progress that we’re making and the potential for positive change. Optimism helps inspire and motivate your audience to get involved. Taking action and celebrating the wins can act as an antidote to burnout and hopelessness.

Connecting people with the ocean

Unfortunately nature has a bit of an inclusivity problem. That includes access to the ocean, here in the UK and many other places around the world. (More about that here and here.) Not only does this mean that a large portion of the population is missing out on time spent in nature but nature is missing out on them too. Because, when people feel an emotional connection with nature, they are more likely to protect and support its future.

Ocean Conservation Trust group on snorkel safari standing in the water with snorkels and wetsuits

The OCT strategy highlights the value of connecting people to the ocean and helping them recognise the role they can play in protecting it. They are using a range of educational programmes as well as their National Marine Aquarium to inspire people from a diverse range of cultural and socio-economic backgrounds to love and connect with the Ocean.

“As their agency and collaboration partner, it is our role to help them create experiences or campaigns that connect people to the environment and inspire them to take action. To tell their story through educational materials, interactive exhibits, video, social media campaigns, digital experiences and events.”
– Simon Thomason, Leap Managing Director

Casting the net wider (in a strictly metaphorical sense)

Finally, never underestimate the importance of partnerships and collaboration. No single organisation or individual can solve the complex challenges facing our environment – it’s going to take a collective effort. Work with the competition. You cannot have too many friends – build partnerships and collaborate with other organisations or individuals working towards similar goals. And it doesn’t have to be other charities. The Ocean Conservation Trust works with corporate partners, education, research and government as well as community groups and other conservation organisations.

spread of pages from the OCT strategy document

We’re extremely proud to help amplify the important work the OCT is doing and urge you to check them out and get involved. In conclusion, to make people care about conservation they need to feel that it’s something they can be part of – focus on community engagement, positive action, connection, and collaboration.

If you have a project in mind to help inspire and motivate people to protect our planet – reach out to [email protected].