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  • Casey Schmidt

VoxPop - Hyperlocal Context for More Effective, Meaningful Policy Engagement

The best diplomats and most effective communicators on the world stage share one common trait; they are outstanding listeners with a thirst for discovering what matters most to their audience. These leaders know deep down they cannot inspire public support or advance a meaningful policy agenda without understanding the voice of the people and framing their communications and programs in a manner that truly resonates at hyperlocal levels. Indeed, all politics, all diplomacy is local!


All too often, however, organizations struggle to quickly discover what is important to the public for more impactful communications and policy execution. Rapidly changing informational environments, an explosion of diverse social media platforms, and legacy processes for media monitoring often constrain organizations from understanding the voice of the people.


Organizations need greater access to localized expertise and emerging technologies to quickly grasp the zeitgeist of the people, so leaders are equipped with hyperlocal context for more effective policy engagement.

These challenges underscore VoxCroft’s value proposition for public sector organizations. Our proprietary blend of global media and cultural expertise, data science, and artificially intelligent technologies deliver the most timely, accurate, and relevant population-centric insights for more informed policy action. Our insights empower leaders to quickly find the nexus between organizational policy goals and the issues that matter most to the people they intend to serve. In short, we help leaders become better listeners!


One such area where VoxCroft adds value is in the climate change space. No doubt about it, climate change has become a dominant international policy agenda. The United States Biden Administration has made climate change a central tenant of its domestic and foreign policy, and many developing countries, too, are setting ambitious policy goals to reduce carbon emissions and reverse the effects of global warming. Indeed, more than 30 African countries have signed the Paris Climate Agreement to stem the disproportionate impact of climatic shocks and environmental disasters on the African continent. These policy goals are intended to curb pollutants entering the atmosphere and build public awareness and inspire changes in consumer behavior over time.


Given the importance of public attitudes in a pro-climate agenda, VoxCroft explored the question: to what extent does the concept of climate change resonate in Africa? Is there a disconnect between the policy halls of national capitals and the public discourse around the world? To partly answer this question, we performed a snap review of Twitter and online media reporting on climate change and related impacts in Gabon, Kenya, Mozambique, Senegal, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe from January to June 2021. We also used sophisticated social network analysis techniques to identify the influential voices and climate change advocates in the social media domain. Our results revealed the following:


1) The disconnect is significant. Climate change has a very limited online and social media profile in several African countries despite the growing prominence of pro-climate policy agendas globally. With the exception of Kenya, VoxCroft observed very little public discourse around climate change in online and social media communications.



2) While local impacts such as flooding and drought are often discussed and reported, these events are rarely linked to climate change. For example, Senegalese online media sources contained several mentions of flooding, revealing public concern over the clean-up and recovery after major floods. The content, however, rarely associated the natural disaster with climate change.




3) International actors—equally in the United States, Europe, and Africa—can begin to bridge the policy disconnect and raise greater public awareness for a pro-climate agenda through strategic communications that frame local natural disasters in the context of climate change as a root cause.


4) Increased engagement with advocacy voices in Africa can amplify critical messages and raise greater public awareness of the impact of climate change at local levels. Social media users in Kenya are using Twitter to voice their opinions on climate change and engage with these issues in ways that many other countries are not. Key influencers, such as Emmanuel Niyoyabikoze, a climate activist from Burundi, bring the concepts of climate change and environmental preservation to Burundi via his local nonprofit and Twitter platform.