DEAR projects explore and explain complexity and bring global issues closer to the general public, young people, and decision makers alike.

Global issues are complex and interlinked. xx DEAR Projects focussed on producing quality insights on global issues by challenging existing narratives and highlighting the interconnections among global phenomena.

So climate change is connected with gender issues, financial justice is a driver for sustainability, production and consumption practices affect social inequalities, migrations are linked to environmental degradation and the food on our tables.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT? New narratives guide further learning and literacy. They help public opinion to engage in healthy conversations and constructive actions. Connecting the dots counters discriminatory bias, stereotypical interpretation of reality, and ultimately the polarisation of public debate. Most of all, critical understanding helps us debunk prejudice and over-simplification in our daily lives.

Through narrative shift and hope-based communication, DEAR projects like “Faces of Migration”, “Citizens for Financial Justice”, and “Snapshot from the borders” challenged the existing views on human mobility, poverty, inequalities, environmental crises, and displacement. Climate justice is social justice, international development cooperation becomes a commitment to peace, migration turns into an opportunity for sustainable cities and communities.

“I am not only a refugee – I am much more than that. It’s only one part of me, not my identity” Silesia, 25 – Afghan, currently in Bulgaria [from SDGs and Migration in the European Union, 2022]

Deforestation, migration, and food systems (Faces of Migration)

The extraction of natural resources like hydrocarbons, minerals, or wood, and extensive plantations require the deforestation of hundreds of square kilometres to the detriment of biodiversity and local populations, who are forced to move out of their lands. […] Deforestation is also linked to the global value chain associated with food consumption.

The introduction of exotic food in diets in the more industrialised countries contributes to such a phenomenon. Avocados, mangos, Argentinian and Brazilian meat beef, fish sourced on African coasts are ever more present in Western diets and large food retail in Europe, North America and Asia.

Today, the global food system is responsible for one quarter of all greenhouse gases contributing to climate change, as well as the decreasing resilience capacities of poor populations of the world.

Financial Justice (Citizens for Financial Justice)

The link between the global economic system and inequalities within and among countries is often overlooked. The project Citizens for Financial Justice framed the discussion around how current financial markets are not designed or regulated to mainstream or uphold human rights, gender justice or environmental justice.

“Global development challenges, especially hunger, access to adequate housing, access to clean energy and water, and health, amongst others, have long been approached by the international community as stemming from extreme poverty. […] The framework of inequalities offers a remarkable transformational potential if compared to the traditional poverty approach”.

[from: Spotlight on financial justice. Understanding global inequalities to overcome financial injustice]

People behind data and stories (Snapshots from the Broders)

Is it true that anchoring the public debate about migrations to numbers and data helps toning down the fiercest and more stereotyped arguments? Not always.

A Eurobarometer survey (2022) provides information on migration perceptions among Europeans. Two out of three (68%) people tend to overestimate the number of third country nationals in their country. And only around a third (34%) of Europeans consider themselves well informed about migration and integration.

Data can support an informed debate but have so far failed to counter a polarised and often violent narrative in which numbers, to some extent, have brought to a ‘depersonalisation’ of migrants.

Snapshots from the borders contributed to accurate information, but moved away from numbers, centering the narrative on individual stories of people and border areas. Individual tales of migration and active citizenship help(ed) inspire the direct involvement of ordinary people and local authorities.

Vito Fiorino, runs an ice cream parlour on the island of Lampedusa and does not hold back the emotion when recalling a tragedy at sea in 2013.

“We heard screams, but at first I thought they were seagulls. They were people. […] They were naked, then they told us that they threw their clothes so as not to drown; they were covered with gasoline, because of the explosion. They were slipping away from our hands. I could no longer look at the sea with the same eyes after that night”.

Vito managed to save 47 people.

A significant change – Interdependencies and journalism ethics combined

Faces of Migration engaged, among others, with almost 1 500 journalists and journalism students in 7 countries. They were offered specific training, or media kits, materials, data, and some of them travelled to Lebanon, Ukraine, Poland, Senegal, Ethiopia, Mauretania, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

Hearing and understanding individual stories allow for multifaceted perspectives on people’s lives and the reasons behind the decision to migrate.

“The study visit changed our perspective; (I) had good materials and stories to publish”

Trained journalist

As a result, trained journalists published almost 1 200 articles and radio/TV broadcasts on more than 150 European media outlets based on the insights on migration stereotypical and sexist representations, terminology, resource grabbing acquired thanks to the project.

Moving away from stereotypical or dehumanised representations was the core of the narrative shift.

Poverty pornography / Conflict porn >>

Terms used to describe mass media practices that exploit the condition and suffering of the poor, marginalised, or conflict-thorn communities to trigger audience attention while stripping them of their dignity and agency.

A significant change: The EIB climate roadmap

A project partner, the organisation Counter Balance, coordinated the ‘Fossil Free EIB’ campaign, which saw an impressive mobilisation of citizens and civil society across Europe to reform the European Investment Bank (EIB), the world’s biggest public lender, and make it better aligned with the SDGs and European policies.
For the first time in its history, the EIB Board of Governors made climate its priority topic during its annual meeting in June 2019. And with the contribution of the project, in November 2020, the EIB adopted a climate roadmap for the period 2021-2025, committing to align all its operations with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

A significant change: A network of Border Towns

“Snapshots from the Border” led to the establishment of the Border Towns and Islands Network (BTIN). Currently composed of border municipalities across 11 European countries, BTIN helps address challenges faced by local communities with regard to managing migrants and refugees inflows. It is a platform to exchange experiences, knowledge-sharing and policy proposals. The BTIN has facilitated the cooperation between different decision makers (Majors or Deputies) in different countries, representing different political backgrounds and points of view on migration. In addition, the network strengthens alliances between these local authorities and non-governmental organisations leading to a greater commitment by some LAs to build more equitable and inclusive migration policies.