Selecting the methods, messengers and channels for communicating green growth M&E is essential to effectively engage the diverse stakeholder audiences involved. In an increasingly well-connected world a diverse range of options are available from printed, broadcast and online media, to SMS texting and face-to-face public gatherings. For example, after developing environmental accounts, Statistics New Zealand produced brochures highlighting data and indicators related to New Zealand’s fisheries. From this news media picked up the story, which then reached environmental managers in a provincial environmental authority who made enquiries regarding detailed fish stock data for their area. Non-governmental and civil society organizations can play an important role in mobilizing and engaging key groups of stakeholders (Marcus and Geffen, 1998).
As with the New Zealand example, interested stakeholders may require more detailed information, and may want to scrutinize green growth and related data more carefully than is possible from news media alone. To enable this, it is important that M&E be communicated in layers and by various means (Stiglitz, 2010). At the top level are headline indicators, policy briefs and media releases, and below this indicator sets and summary reports, supported by more detailed methodological and analytical reports for those that want to verify the quality of the information (Figure 2). The role of the messenger is also important and M&E findings must attract the attention of decision makers (Mahundaza, 2009).
To be effective, the language, messengers, and communication channels should all be credible and appropriate for the stakeholders as highlighted in Figure 2. For example, the Sujala project case study used models and maps to explain complex M&E findings to partially-literate stakeholders. In the USA, the Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP) developed indicators to assess ecological conditions and trends across the country targeted to the environmental aspects valued by stakeholders. The EMAP program found that descriptions of scientific indicators were less important to non-scientists than the environmental implications on ‘valued aspects of the environment’ described in a few words drawing from a set of indicators (Schiller et al., 2001). Making M&E understandable and meaningful to stakeholders is not a simple task and EMAP undertook extensive stakeholder engagement before being able to complete the development of its indicators. Chapter 3: Assessing and communicating benefits of green growth discusses in detail effective communication of green growth benefits.
Visualizing or demonstrating negative consequences of environmental degradation is a useful way to raise public awareness and to call for public support or action. For example, in one local case, the town Mayor took up an annual challenge to see how far he could wade into the river before he could no longer see his white tennis shoes. Serving as a proxy measure for water quality, the exercise provides an entertaining media stunt to raise awareness of water quality (Gasteyer and Flora, 2000). Novel ways of communicating, the results of monitoring and evaluation, and making them meaningful for stakeholders can also raise awareness of green growth progress.
Furthermore, economic valuation of potential gains (or losses) from possible green growth initiatives (or failure to take action) is another powerful way to raise public awareness and stimulate positive changes.
Where livelihoods are at stake, the differences between stakeholders in terms of formal versus informal education, experiences, understanding of surroundings, and underlying values will be very important to the success of M&E programs (Degnbol, 2005). In the case of fisheries management, fishermen are typically focused on the allocation of the catch as this is the basis of their livelihood. Only if M&E is compelling from their own experience, will they accept any changes in allocation or resource management (Degnbol, 2005). As such, the quality of information alone does not ensure M&E results will be accepted and there is a body of literature that demonstrates information is only accepted if it relates to values already found in the audience (Degnbol, 2005; Chess and Johnson, 2007; and Schiller et al., 2001). Stakeholders in the Sujala Project in Karnataka were engaged in a continuous M&E feedback loop throughout the project, from indicator development to data collection to reviewing results. As a result of this feedback, a mid-term review led to a decision to shift funding into providing revolving funds for self-help groups, which resulted in a sharper focus on addressing poverty and improving opportunities for women and the landless (Raju et al., 2010).