Internet notebook about my work: deep listening to facilitate positive change


Monday, 19 December 2011

Awareness indicators

A recent poll for the Natural History Museum (late 2010) comes to very different conclusions than one by the Botanic Gardens Conservation International (early 2011). The latter is very optimistic, the first one much less so. At a closer look the confusion comes from the different things they measure. To develop indicators for biodiversity awareness (target 1 on the CBD Strategic Plan) we need more clarity and consensus about who to survey, what to survey and how to do it in a way that is relevant nationally and globally.
Who are we surveying: most of the biodiversity targets of the strategic plan are less relevant to the general public and more relevant to specific stakeholder groups. For public awareness we may have to limit ourselves in what we measure.
What are we measuring: cognitive knowledge seems less relevant as the word biodiversity often seems too scientific and explanations and narratives are often too abstract to appeal to the general public. It might be better to measure consciousness about the importance of the nature and consciousness about appropriate behavior choices.
How we measure: public opinion polls are one thing, hard facts (membership of conservation organizations, visits to national parks, market share certified products, commitments on social media etc.) are another thing. It seems easy to measure but who decides which organizations, which areas etc.? How also has to do with language and cultural context. In the Netherlands the concept of nature is seen by experts as a better word to use in a survey than biodiversity. In Brazil at the other hand some colleagues argue the opposite.
The matrix above offers a conceptual framework for indicators. It is taken from a recent study by Wageningen University. Although focusing on the Dutch and European situation this study together with the recent DEFRA study might be a good starting point for further discussion.

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