Framing: Some Options to Consider

With these cautions in mind, the following examples of approaches to framing are provided as ideas to be used with discernment about which aspects are most appropriate and relevant for specific audiences and communication objectives.

In The Preparation Frame: A Guide to Building Understanding of Climate Impacts and Engagement in Solutions (2015), Pike, Eaves, Huva, et al take many of these core concepts and apply them to the complexities of communicating climate adaptation, using eight guiding principles. These principles are described primarily in terms of external community engagement, but are equally relevant for engaging colleagues, other departments in an organization, or potential community collaborators on an initiative. While focused on polling from the US, the core concepts are applicable in Canadian contexts, as well. They could also be modified to serve as additional questions to consider when building an understanding of your audience.

The preparation frame is one that “focuses on local and current climate impacts and what can be done to reduce the risk to communities, businesses, homes, natural systems and future generations” (Pike, et al., 2015).

Among these eight principles are recommendations to:

(Note: specific examples of and additional details on each principle are described in the reading)

  • Frame the issue of adaptation around impacts that are relevant and connected to people’s lived experience of their daily life, their work, or their mandate. (More on the use of visualization tools is included in Module Seven, which focuses on community engagement).
  • Identify (as best you can) what climate impacts your audience most cares about or are most likely to be a priority for them.
  • Incorporate core values that are likely to be motivating, such as responsibility, fairness and stewardship. “Research is clear that people accept, reject, and interpret facts in ways that confirm or fortify their pre-existing beliefs and worldviews” (Pike et al, 2015).
  • Use uncertainty as a reason to act and get involved, not as a reason to wait or delay.
  • If relevant, name the human and financial cost of inaction.
  • Advance solutions or actions that are practical and connected to the scale of the problem being presented. Link these steps to collective action, shared effort, and a sense of efficacy, to the degree possible.


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Strategic Dialogue and Engagement for Climate Adaptation Copyright © by Simon Fraser University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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