Activating change: meeting the climate crisis inside-out

In the context of our ActivateChange project, we analyse how trainable cognitive, emotional and relational capacities relate to responsiveness and resilience to the climate crisis. While research into the effect of such capacities on sustainable behaviour and the psychological toll of climate change is still nascent, there is an urgent need to critically systematise this promising work and deploy insights from the wider evidence base to improve policy.
Against this background, the aim of the project is to conduct and compile substantive research and produce guidance upon how mindfulness and compassion can increase responsiveness and resilience in the face of the climate crisis. More specifically, we look into how mindfulness and compassion can:
  • Influence the mindsets and paradigms that underpin attitudes to the environment and related solutions;
  • Increase our ability to cope amid climate impacts (e.g. loss, ecological grief, anxiety, lifestyle change); and
  • Increase our ability to support change for sustainability at social, organisational and political levels (e.g. mitigation of cognitive biases and denial).
The outputs from the project include a policy report and a video, scheduled for launch in spring 2022, following the UNFCCC COP 26 climate conference taking place in Glasgow in November 2021. The project outputs are based on:  i) a literature review, ii) interviews  with politicians and other decision-makers, and ii) consultation amongst researchers and innovators to survey the field and collect the most promising thinking and interventions.
Apart from Lund University (LUCSUS), the project cooperation partner and project participants include: The Mindfulness Initiative (MI), the Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group, UK, and WWF, the world’s leading independent conservation organisation. The project is further supported by MI's Patrons, including Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn (Professor of Medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, USA).
Project outcomes so far: Policy report by Bristow, J., Bell, R., and Wamsler, C. (2022) titled 'Reconnection – Meeting the climate crisis inside-out. Online. For further outcomes see under research, publications and presentations.
Related projects: Mind4Change and TransVision.
See also our MI project website and here for the recording of our report launch and updates regarding the report.