Creating Agency Amongst Young Indian Climate Activists

Greenpeace India campaigners realized that the disruptive moments caused by Covid lockdowns were opportunities to inspire young activists through a completely different kind of engagement. One that wasn’t about triggering fear but about inspiring hope.

Tags: Emotions, Feel.Think.Act., Agency, Climate Crisis, COVID | Country: India

The challenge

The Covid pandemic, and subsequent lockdowns caused Greenpeace India’s teams of volunteers, activists and allies to feel overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety and helplessness.

Lockdowns had also upended Indian society. Millions of migrant workers struggled to return to their villages hundreds and  thousands of miles away. City residents read their stories in the media and began to feel more empathy for their plight. It was a defining moment that was changing people’s narratives, values, perceptions, and norms.

Meanwhile, Greenpeace India reports were ignoring human stories, relying instead on triggering feelings of fear.

The aims

Create spaces for interacting with audiences such as sharing stories and feelings about what was happening to make connections and encourage empathy

Shift perceptions of Greenpeace India to a more empathetic and enabling organisation that listens

Use these conversations to empower audiences to take new kinds of actions — imparting a sense of agency and opportunity

The Solution

Mindworks’ insights

Key Mindset Factors: Emotions
Conversations that help shift mindsets away from despair and towards empowerment are based on a three-part framework called the [Feel. Think. Act] Journey. It involves listening to participants’ feelings, guiding them to reimagine a new world, and building their individual and collective senses of action.

Using Mindworks’ [Think. Feel. Act] Journey, Greenpeace India hosted a group Zoom conversation with more than 30 young climate activists from more than 20 different locations across India.

The entire experience lasted 2.5 hours and included discussions in ‘breakout rooms’ about what participants were feeling, what they felt they could let go of, and what kind of future they wanted for their communities.

“Participants transitioned from feeling paralyzed towards feeling a sense of agency and taking action during this crisis.”

The impact

Following the Zoom event, some participants started groups in their own neighbourhoods to solve local challenges. For example, in Kashmir, a youth group began working on local environmental issues with the local government. The 30 youth who took part in this activity have attracted another 100 people across India to join them.

The future

Greenpeace India is now working with these young activists to mentor them further. Equipped with more expertise on hosting conversations about difficult emotions, the team is also considering reviving “ the Climate Samvad”, an unbranded conversation based dialogue space India to create a culture of conversations specially during crisis and difficult times which has reached out to an audience of 11,000 people.