The Preparation Frame: A Guide to Building Understanding of Climate Impacts and Engagement in Solutions

The Preparation Frame offers guidance on climate change communication methods and strategies, and focuses on helping communities to prepare for and reduce the risks of climate disruption. The guide describes how to strategically frame the climate conversation, and effectively convey vulnerabilities and the need to plan for and reduce associated impacts. The report presents guiding principles for solutions-based messaging around both the challenges and opportunities for climate mitigation and adaptation.

The report opens with an overview of public opinion polls on climate change, and the influence of language or word choice on the topic. The terms “preparedness” and “preparation” have been found to be among the most effective when discussing impacts. And, “preparation” is generally preferred over “adaptation” or “adapting” to climate change. 

The psychological or emotional response to climate messaging is discussed to support “moving audiences from awareness to agreement.”  The report offers advice on addressing: Values and Worldview, Emotions, Sense of Place, Efficacy and Risk Response.

This resource was featured in the April 17, 2015, ASAP Newsletter.

"Climate Access executive director Cara Pike will share insights from the recently released Preparation Frame guide that draws from the latest public opinion polls and research, as well as tools and best practices from leaders who are already engaging the public in preparation efforts."

The following Eight Guiding Principles are illustrated through the framework:

1. Focus on local, observable impacts

2. Begin with what audiences care about

3. Build on non-partisan values

4. Tap uncertainty as a reason to prepare

5. Emphasize the cost of inaction

6. Promote practical solutions 

7. Articulate what will get better if action is taken

8. Promote mitigation as a preparation strategy

Although the 8 principles are straightforward, Climate Access explains that the preparation frame for engagement is not only based on effective messaging and dialogue strategies, but is also deeply rooted in risk communications research and psychology. A strong preparation frame regards personal connections by focusing on local and current climate impacts, and what can be done to reduce risks - rather than focusing on the certainty of the science, for example.

Section Four details public engagement strategies to help guide outreach efforts, and gives examples of these strategies in use. To assess and motivate the audience, the report integrates the 5D Staged Approach to Change (from The Resource Innovation Group) which includes 5 stages of change in behavior: Disinterest, Deliberation, Design, Doing and Defending. The report describes how to move through each of these stages using the Preparation Frame engagement strategies.


Publication Date: March 2015

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Resource Types:

  • Communication
  • Engagement

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