EDUTAINMENT’ PLATFORMS AS DRIVERS OF THE CLIMATE CHANGE CONVERSATION

By Boniswa Sidwaba (Head of Content Programming TikTok SSA)

Digital media is this century’s mass communication tool of choice, with social media and online entertainment platforms providing avenues for human expression and the exploration of key social themes and topics of interest.

The nature of public discourse across digital spaces in the lead up to COP27 illustrates the central role of online platforms in driving important conversations around issues such as climate change.

COP27; which kicked off on 6 November and runs until 18 November, will highlight, among other things, the role that education will continue to play in furthering the climate action agenda. We find ourselves at a crucial juncture in human history, where people need to be made acutely aware of the impacts of climate change, in the hopes of working together towards a more climate-conscious future.

We know that the consumer of today uses online platforms for entertainment, social networking, self-expression and promotional activities, but the use of digital as a way to become educated and stay informed cannot be underestimated. With users spending a significant portion of their waking hours on digital channels, these platforms are where people obtain important information about the world around them.

On TikTok, we have witnessed the convergence of entertainment and education – this new realm of ‘edutainment’ will provide a digital meeting place for brands, businesses, social upliftment organisations, activists and people from all backgrounds, creeds and geographical locations. As such, with issues around climate change becoming ever more pressing, TikTok recognises the role that online platforms will play in driving climate-related conversations during the proceedings of COP27 and beyond.

This emergent shift in the way that people consume and create content has compelled a number of organisations to partner with prominent public figures, industry ambassadors, celebrities and influencers in sharing important messages around the importance of investing into a sustainable future.

I believe that edutainment, as a driver of global awareness around sustainability will continue to expand its reach across every sector, in ways that will help people realise how pervasive the issue of climate change really is.

Fashion is an example of an industry that I believe can be more sustainable. Today, consumers are specifically holding fashion houses and producers accountable on digital forums, and rightly so; now is the time for big businesses to engage with their audiences authentically and meaningfully. Positively, there has been a noticeable increase in sustainable fashion across the globe as manufacturers aim to move away from “fast fashion” and make necessary adjustments to their operating models and supply chains.

Many of the individual creators within the TikTok community use the platform to provide suggestions and guidance regarding climate change. Consider #ClimateAction, which has garnered over 870 million app views.

Given the enormous reach of this eco-activist network, all evidence suggests that during COP27, users will flock to online platforms for information, debate and most importantly, edutainment.

We are confident that in the weeks to follow, online communities will take the cautious and responsible lead in the discussions surrounding COP27, and that themes from the conference will serve as catalysts for future dialogue and education. Together, we can use online tools to change mindsets, shift perceptions and equip consumers with the facts that will inform their lifestyle choices and make the changes the world truly needs.

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