For my final project in Digital Campaigns, I have chosen to develop a social media strategy for COP15 in Copenhagen, Denmark in November/December 2009. For another assignment, I stumbled upon Cop15.dk/eng, the temporary Website for COP15. It is built on the Web 1.0 design that the Danish Foreign Service has used for 5-6 years. And to their defense, the new Website, they are developing, will hopefully include more Web 2.0 platforms than just the current RSS-feed.
The following is an excerpt but somewhat re-written version of my paper:
World leaders will assemble in Copenhagen and attempt to write the succeeding agreement to the Kyoto Protocol. It is a unique opportunity for Denmark to brand its progressive climate agenda and regain its reputation after the Cartoon Crisis in 2006.
However, it is a challenge to build an efficient organization and communications platform handling delegates from the 192 partnering countries, thousands of media outlets, NGOs, and other interested actors. It will be chaotic. But a social media strategy will provide the tools and the directions to succeed in this chaos.
Exploring Social Media in Political Processes
Employing Web 2.0 platforms will represent a courageous and experimental strategy. Governments around the world have not yet embraced social media as businesses and NGOs have. It is also the case in Denmark, but a social media strategy should fit well in with the management skills of the Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, and with Denmark’s tradition of being a progressive and pioneering country. Furthermore, UN in general has wide experience in using social media in the political process, which Denmark could build on (Garrett Graff, lecture, Summer 2008).
However, the question is how do ordinary citizens (or green influentials) get access to relevant information about COP15 and engage in the negotiations?
The Internet can be a “platform for informed, interactive politics, stimulating political participation and opening up possible avenues for enlarging decision making beyond the closed doors of political institutions” (Sey & Castells, 2008, p.225). On the other hand, the Internet, especially open source projects, is user-generated, and the actual influence or participation is by no means obvious.
Taken to an extreme, this would be direct democracy – eroding the current representative democracy in the Western world as many politicians probably fear. Dean’s campaign in 2003 and 2004 tapped into the Perfect Storm and is the perfect example of an “extreme” social media strategy. Politicians have also been cautious about opening up the political process because it is time consuming, and it requires giving up some control.
The challenge for COP15 and for political processes in general is “to find a model of Internet politics that captures the strength of the medium, while retaining control and organizational precision in the hand of politicians (Sey & Castells, 2008, p. 228). Furthermore, social media should be used to mobilize the allies of climate change to put pressure on world leaders in the participating countries.
It does pose a risk for Denmark to experiment with a new framework for political decision-making, but hosting COP15 is in itself a risk. And anyway the green influentials in the Web 2.0 landscape will be listening, talking, and connecting about climate change and COP15 anyway.
All in all, the goal is to build a Web 2.0 platform providing a framework for climate diplomacy and providing the target audience (green influentials) information about and access to the COP15 negotiations, thereby sustaining accountable and transparent negotiations.
The social media strategy could include:
4. The LinkedIn Group COP15 to sustain a professional network
5. Flickr: I was there
6. The COP15 Channel on YouTube featuring round ups and raw material.