5 Campaign Tactics to Protect the Environment (you can use right now)

Develop really effective campaign tactics to protect the environment and learn 5 outcomes you can achieve using campaign tactics.

Campaign tactic – An action or event used to achieve an objective.

Delivering tactics is the fun part of being an environment campaigner – the part where you get out, meet people and do stuff.

Here are just a few of the tactics commonly used by advocacy campaigns and behaviour change campaigns:

  • Holding town hall meetings
  • Running petition signing events
  • Organising marches and rallies
  • Recruiting and motivating volunteers
  • Developing the resources people need to act or change
  • Delivering community presentations and training workshops
  • Discussing the issue and solutions with politicians and businesspeople

Only your imagination and resources limit the campaign tactics you use in your campaign.

Oh, but wait – there is an additional very important limitation: A tactic’s ability to serve a purpose.

And as you see in this article, the one and only purpose a tactic must serve is that it contributes to achieving your campaign goal.

With that laser-focus on your goal you are ready to learn about campaign tactics to protect the environment. In this article we explore:

Campaign tactics to protect the environment definition

Silent Reef defines a campaign tactic as:

An action or event used to achieve an objective.

The important take home from this definition is that campaign tactics should never be chosen at random. You should never use a tactic in the hope it will achieve some undetermined outcome.

The sole reason for choosing to use any tactic is that it contributes (along with your other tactics) to achieving one of your objectives, and so takes you a step closer to achieving your campaign goal.

This careful use of time and funds is crucial for environment campaigns that typically have these resources in very short supply.

We further explore the relationship between tactics, objectives and goals next.

The role of tactics in a campaign plan

A campaign plan is a detailed description of what a campaign wants to achieve and how it will achieve it.

A campaign tactic is a key element of a campaign plan. Other key elements include:

  • Goal – The ultimate outcome a campaign works to achieve
  • Strategy – A statement describing how to achieve a goal
  • Objective – Creates a condition needed to achieve a goal

When you have these elements working in harmony – tactics working to achieve objectives – objectives creating the conditions in which the goal is possible to achieve – a strategy directing your decisions – a goal providing a final (and glorious) destination – you are in the best possible place for running your campaign.

To get these elements working in harmony all you have to do is write them into a campaign plan.

A mistake commonly made by environment campaigns is thinking they do not have time to plan. The reality is that campaigns do not have time not to plan.

When working to an evidence-based campaign plan, you know that each and every one of your campaign tactics plays an important role in achieving your goal.

With that reassurance you can throw yourself whole-heartedly into delivering your campaign tactics. Without that reassurance you’re at risk of giving up on tactics that prove hard to deliver.

Plan your path to campaign success from tactics to goal with Silent Reef’s Write Effective Campaign Plans online course.

Why we need campaign tactics

The primary purpose of campaign tactics is to protect the environment. This applies whether you’re campaigning to avert catastrophic global climate heating or to protect your local woodland, beach or wildlife.

Delivering campaign tactics is how you achieve these and other outcomes.

For most of your campaign your goal and objectives are just ideas written into your campaign plan.

However, your campaign tactics take place in the real world, starting from the day you launch your campaign. It is the accumulation of outcomes created by your tactics that leads you to the point where achieving your campaign goal is possible.

Delivering campaign tactics is how you get the job done.

Now you have a good idea of the role of campaign tactics you are ready to explore our 5 campaign tactics to protect the environment.

5 campaign tactics to protect the environment

A complete list of campaign tactics to protect the environment would be long. Very long.

So rather than simply create a bullet list of tactics I have chosen to outline 5 broad outcomes that campaign tactics can be used to achieve. This is with the understanding that there are many different actions and events (tactics) you can use to achieve each outcome.

The aim of using this approach is to stimulate your creative juices to devise the tactics best suited to achieving these outcomes for your campaign. Some tactics suggestions are provided for each category to start you off.

Raise community awareness

It’s no secret that simply telling people about an issue is unlikely to cause them to do something about it.

For example, everyone knows that littering is wrong and yet our waterways are fouled with trash. And surely by now all smokers know their habit could kill them.

Despite this, people do need to know about something before they will do anything about it.

As such, before people will act in support of your campaign they need to recognise the environment issue you’re campaigning to remedy as a problem.

So, an important campaign tactic to protect the environment is making people aware of the issue and your campaign solutions to remedy it.

Following are 5 tactics to raise community awareness:

  • Organise community information nights
  • Share supporter stories on social media
  • Run stands at community shows, sustainability fairs and street markets
  • Deliver school talks with activities (e.g. drawing; modelling) pupils can take home to show their parents
  • Write for magazines and websites your target audience frequents

Develop and deliver campaign messages that turn a passive public into active supporters with Silent Reef’s Communicate Effective Campaign Messages online course.

Align people’s identities with nature

Here’s a useful insight if you have ever wondered why people vote the way they do:

Few people vote for a political party based on a careful comparison of each party’s policies.

Instead, most people vote for the political party they feel people like them vote for, or that their parents and friends vote for, or that they feel best represents the sort of person they understand themselves to be.

In other words, people vote according to their identity – their perception of who they are and what makes them unique.

Environment campaigns can use this idea of identity to encourage people to engage in campaign tactics to protect the environment.

All you need do is align people’s identity with an aspect of the natural world you are campaigning to protect, such as a cute, cuddly critter or a locally recognised and inspiring natural emblem.

Following are 5 tactics to align people’s identities with nature:

  • Create a mascot (of aspect of the natural world) to represent the campaign audience at sports events and other public occasions
  • Distribute visual signs for people to show their affinity with (aspect of the natural world), such as stickers and T shirts
  • Work to have traditional media (newspapers, radio, TV and magazines) depict and mention (aspect of the natural world)
  • Commission street art in a prominent position depicting (aspect of the natural world)
  • Integrate (aspect of the natural world) into all campaign materials (e.g. logo; website; social media profiles)

Enable people to act or change

Our next category of campaign tactic to protect the environment is core work for environment campaigners – enabling people to take action (advocacy campaigns) or change an environmentally damaging behaviour (behaviour change campaigns).

By raising community awareness and aligning people’s identities with nature you get your audience ready to act or change. Now it is critical that you help them to act or change.

Following are 5 tactics to enable people to act or change:

  • Run petitions and letter writing campaigns
  • Organise marches and rallies
  • Deliver activism training
  • Provide the resources people need to act/change
  • Install infrastructure people need to stop a damaging behaviour (e.g. litter bins)

Many actions can be taken through your website. Find out how to make your website a hub of supporter recruitment and engagement.

Non-violent civil disobedience

A further campaign tactic used by some advocacy campaigns is non-violent civil disobedience (e.g. lockons; sitins; barricades). This tactic puts volunteers in arrestable situations. It requires special training and an organised support team. Not all campaigns choose to use this tactic and it’s perfectly OK if your campaign decides not to take this step.

Uncover the facts

In all of Silent Reef’s campaign training you will find a strong emphasis on research.

This is because environment campaigns built on a solid foundation of research are more effective. They are also more resilient to the forces that wish them harm. Read more about the benefits of research (with links to research tips).

Most frequently we emphasise the importance of research for planning. After all, campaign plans based on assumptions rather than facts cannot possibly be effective.

But there’s another kind of research that plays a crucial role in environment campaigns – research as a tactic.

You see, effective advocacy campaigns do not just respond to the issue. They also proactively open new fronts to make issue proponents respond to them. Opening new fronts requires knowledge, and knowledge is gained through research.

And effective behaviour change campaigns do not assume their solutions are working. They conduct research to make sure and identify new approaches if needed.

Following are 5 tactics to uncover the facts:

  • Fact check claims supporting the issue
  • Discover less damaging alternatives to the issue
  • Research to reveal new information, such as local community health impacts caused by an environmentally damaging development
  • Investigate the environment, social and economic impacts from the same issue in other locations
  • Conduct surveys to measure impacts, including improvements caused by campaign solutions

Too busy to do your own research? Then find time to read Silent Reef’s ebook, Calling In The Experts: The environment campaigner’s guide to recruiting and working with technical advisors (free download).

Legal solutions

These days it’s laughable when politicians claim highly destructive environment issues are OK because they’re legal. This is because governments around the world have so degraded legislation intended to protect the environment that it is often totally unfit for purpose.

Despite this, businesses and governments sometimes break what weak legislation remains, providing opportunities to stop, reduce or delay environmentally damaging issues.

Following are 5 tactics to achieve legal solutions:

  • Identify legal breaches
  • Take court action
  • Make submissions to legally required public enquiries
  • Participate in government reviews of environmental legislation
  • Develop and promote best practice environmental legislation that actually works

Your campaign tactics to protect the environment must contribute to achieving your campaign goal. Writing your tactics into a campaign plan is the best way of making sure they pass this test. Outcomes campaign tactics can be used to achieve include raising community awareness, aligning people’s identities with nature, enabling people to act or change, uncovering the facts and legal solutions.

About the Author

David Roe

Dave is Silent Reef founder and author of Silent Reef's training courses for environment activists. He is convinced that people power - wielded through advocacy and protest - is the best hope for our planet and all the critters that call it home.