FEATURE17 January 2024

Climate in context: Citizens’ role in addressing crisis is not homogeneous

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Ethnographic research has explored different understandings of health and climate change in several countries globally, finding that one definition does not fit all. By Heidi Hasbrouck.

photograph on pregnant woman

The Wellcome Trust approached Ipsos with a challenge: motivate the public to take action on climate change through their own health. The organisation was planning to roll out a new communications and public engagement strategy, relying on key assumptions about how people worldwide understand ‘health’ and ‘climate change’; how relevant these concepts are to themselves and their communities; and how much they prioritise personal health.

To grasp the public’s perception, we recognised the need to step back and understand the contextual experiences of different communities in lower- and middle-income countries. We wanted to explore how these communities perceive health and climate change, and how these concepts fit into their lived realities.

Changing dialogue
The Wellcome Trust funds science and health research to promote knowledge and understanding of science and the value it brings. Within global health research, this dialogue has historically been top down, with the global north funding what it deemed necessary to support the global south. This ...