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Emerging Inuk youth artist Tony Eetak learned about alternative energy and the importance of sustainable consumption.
Emerging Inuk youth artist Tony Eetak learned about alternative energy and the importance of sustainable consumption.

From Awareness to Action: Ad Net Zero Inspires Next Generation of Eco-Conscious Advertisers

Ad Net Zero is an initiative within the advertising industry aimed at addressing the climate emergency by reducing carbon emissions associated with the production, distribution, and publication of advertising materials.

In the face of escalating climate concerns, youth volunteers with Global Dignity Canada in Winnipeg met during this year’s Kivalliq Energy Forum to learn about climate communications and the growing northern energy sector. One of the programs they learned about was a program called Ad Net Zero. It’s become a driving force behind shifting towards sustainability and it opened up a whole area of interest many did not originally consider.

So, What is Ad Net Zero?

Ad Net Zero is an initiative within the advertising industry aimed at addressing the climate emergency by reducing carbon emissions associated with the production, distribution, and publication of advertising materials. It recognizes the significant role that the advertising industry can play in driving positive change towards a more sustainable future.

The initiative operates through a five-point Action Plan, which serves as a guide for the industry’s transition to net zero carbon emissions. This plan likely includes strategies such as reducing energy consumption in advertising production processes, utilizing more sustainable materials, minimizing waste, and offsetting carbon emissions where necessary.

Niriqatiginnga team member Tony Eetak captured this photo in Arviat, Nunavut of smoke from fires in the Northwest Territories making the sky orange.

Photo: Smoke from forest fires raging in the Northwest Territories paint the sky a dark orange on the coast of Hudson Bay in Arviat, Nunavut during the summer of 2023. Photo: Tony Eetak

Youth learning about advertising and marketing for non-profits this year can benefit from understanding initiatives like Ad Net Zero, as it highlights the potential for the advertising industry to make a positive impact on pressing global issues such as climate change. Learning about sustainable practices in advertising can empower young individuals to advocate for responsible marketing strategies in their future endeavors.

Through awareness campaigns and education initiatives, it raises public consciousness about sustainability issues, thereby influencing consumer behaviors and fostering a culture of sustainability within cities and communities. As well, Ad Net Zero’s emphasis on innovation and collaboration within the advertising industry can lead to broader initiatives that promote the resilience and sustainability of urban and remote areas, such as green infrastructure projects or community-based sustainability programs. As a prominent influencer in the advertising realm, Ad Net Zero has the potential to shape public perceptions and attitudes towards sustainability, inspiring individuals, businesses, and policymakers to take action towards creating more sustainable and resilient cities.

Joining Ad Net Zero, individuals and organizations within the advertising industry can contribute to collective efforts in combating climate change. This initiative emphasizes the importance of collaboration and global solutions to address the climate emergency effectively. As well, Ad Net Zero’s efforts to decarbonize the advertising industry (SDG 7, Affordable and Clean Energy) significantly contribute to the objectives outlined in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11, which aims to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.

What we learned this week:

This is a great program and we enjoyed learning about it. From our roundtable conversations, participants raised several key areas where programs like Ad Net Zero could inform models and approaches for future community programs. As several of the youth prepare for post-secondary studies this fall, and the growing need to build capacity across a number of organizations, there’s a need for communications and media training. There have been many storytelling related projects through the pandemic like Our People Our Climate, Niriqatigiinnga and Global Dignity Canada’s Unite Kindness campaign it was suggested projects look to integrating advertising and marketing training. There were a lot of presentations on clean energy, decarbonization and alternative energy sources, and a need to educate and inform communities, especially in the north. A recommendation was that we integrate storytelling and some of the approaches from those projects into ongoing, participatory organizational development efforts.

Storytelling and advertising play already play crucial roles in the context of Arctic Climate Entrepreneurship and climate change, serving as powerful tools for education, awareness-building, and advocacy. In the Arctic and northern communities that are directly impacted by climate change, storytelling becomes a means of sharing lived experiences, traditional knowledge, and the realities of environmental transformation. By incorporating storytelling into our program advertising campaigns, businesses and organizations can humanize climate change and sustainability issues, making them relatable and emotionally resonant for audiences. The group discussion suggested these approaches can also help raise awareness about the challenges faced by northern and rural communities, the importance of sustainable practices, and the urgency of climate action.

Homework:

What do you think of storytelling and advertising in the context of Arctic Climate Entrepreneurship and climate change? In what ways can we use storytelling, and other arts-based approaches to learn about clean energy, net zero advertising, and similar approaches? And especially, how can participation in these kinds of programs rejuvenate how communities and non-profit organizations rebuild much-needed capacity? Learning about clean energy and net zero advertising is also an angle not many northern organizations are focusing on. What kind of arts-based or participatory approaches would work for engaging board members, Staff and volunteers who are re-building organizations based on values, such as dignity and kindness? What’s all this stuff look like integrated into career pathways? How can we re-claim the right to imagine decolonial and decarbonized futures? We’d love to hear what you think. Drop us a note at workspace@niriqatiginnga.ca!

To learn more about the Ad Net Zero initiative and the inspiring work they’re doing, visit their web site at: https://adnetzero.com/

Picture of @1860 Winnipeg Arts

@1860 Winnipeg Arts

@1860 Winnipeg Arts is a small, community-driven arts entrepreneurship and cultural entrepreneurship program in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Our program began with a pilot program aimed at building organizational capacity for digital arts administration, skills development and training. It is supported by the non-profit organization Niriqatiginnga.

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