Climate change

Translating Climate Science for All: The Power of Data Storytelling

Posted on Apr 29, 2024


Luka Biernacki

Translating Climate Science for All: The Power of Data Storytelling

The relatively new aspect of storytelling, and the one that could move the needle on climate action, is high-quality data – an effective tool that can be leveraged for creating new climate action narratives.

Storytelling is our superpower,” says Yuval Noah Harari. The power of storytelling is not merely about entertainment or passing information from one generation to the next. It's about the ability to conjure up words, ideals, and visions so compelling that they can align the hearts and minds of people towards a common purpose. In essence, storytelling serves as the foundation upon which human cooperation is built. It is through shared dreams and narratives that individuals find common ground, enabling them to work together towards achieving goals that seem beyond the reach of any single person.

Decoding Climate Science

This also applies to climate change and the way we need to reframe the narrative and find new stories that not only connect us around this formidable challenge but also encourage the main actors – namely, the governments and corporations – to transform and accelerate climate action on a global and local level. However, the language of science is still too difficult to decode for non-scientists. Although it is widely accepted that decision-makers should prioritise scientific insights in their environmental policies to avoid the worst climate change scenarios, the scientific jargon often found in key documents like the IPCC Reports alienates both policymakers and the public. Transforming these complex numbers into relatable stories is essential for communicating climate change and the environmental degradation, thereby making the scientific findings, forecasts, and projections accessible and engaging for everyone including key decision makers as well as the media.

Data Driven Future

We live in the era of data abundance, where key decisions can be based on a plethora of numbers, metrics, statistics, forecasts, and predictions. This is however the language of science, and what we need is a translator. This is where storytelling can be a powerful tool that can move the needle on climate change and sustainability communication. Cognitive psychology reveals that stories are essential for structuring information in ways our brains can easily understand, making complex data relatable and memorable. This is vital for communicating scientific knowledge, which can often seem abstract and inaccessible to general audiences.

By incorporating scientific findings into stories, we can engage audiences more deeply, fostering a better understanding as well as appreciation of climate science, which usually results in more engagement and very often more funding for further research. This emotional connection is key to generating public support for scientific research and policy changes, particularly in the climate and environmental space – key topics that continue being ignored when it comes to both a greater long-term vision and tangible policies needed now.

Every Data Set Tells a Story

Data storytelling isn't limited to data visualisation alone; it embodies a narrative of change and transformation inspired by both humanity and nature. Every dataset, whether it pertains to sustainability, decarbonisation, circular economy, or nature conservation, harbours a unique story of evolution and impact. And just like every story, it just needs to be brought to life and told. It's not merely about presenting numbers and statistics; it's about telling the story behind the data, providing context, case studies and human – everyday life aspects, and illustrating the journey from aspiration through challenges to progress.

Data storytelling is not just a tool for communication; it's a means of fostering transparency, accountability, and engagement in the environmental sustainability sector. By effectively leveraging data-based narratives, organisations can move away from the pitfalls of greenwashing and the temptation of greenhushing, towards a more honest and impactful approach to sustainability.

At UNUECO, we leverage data to create new stories and narratives that resonate. In an era where greenwashing—making misleading claims about an organisation's environmental efforts—is increasingly scrutinised, data storytelling offers a path to authenticity. It allows organisations to communicate their environmental aspirations and achievements with integrity, backed by hard evidence. This approach not only enhances trust among stakeholders but also contributes to a more informed and aware society.

Leveraging Technology in Data Storytelling

Technology plays a crucial role in enhancing data storytelling through advanced visualisation tools and interactive platforms. These technologies allow storytellers to create more dynamic and engaging narratives that can effectively illustrate complex climate data, such as emission trends, temperature changes, and the effects of various mitigation strategies. By integrating technology, we can transform static data into interactive experiences that invite audience participation and foster a deeper understanding of the issues.

The Mix of Creativity and Technology

Within climate and nature data storytelling, creativity unlocks diverse narrative formats, from interactive infographics to immersive documentaries, making complex data relatable and impactful. The advent of mixed reality (MR), augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR) technologies takes this a step further, offering immersive experiences that vividly illustrate the effects of environmental changes. These technologies allow stories to transcend traditional mediums, engaging all generations in an experiential journey that educates and inspires action. Coupled with social media's reach, this blend of creative storytelling and innovative technology ensures environmental messages resonate widely, fostering a deeper understanding and commitment to sustainability across diverse audiences.

Through our non-profit arm UNUECO Sci-Comm Lab, we aim to experiment with cutting-edge visual technology tools to find new ways of presenting complex topics and data-based concepts. Our journey has just begun, and we hope to innovate for the climate and nature through collaborations with both the scientific community and visual artists.


In an age abundant with data, storytelling emerges as a powerful tool to humanise scientific insights and contextualise its relevance for both the planet and its people. By transforming raw data into compelling narratives, we can provide the necessary context to illuminate the science behind climate action. This approach not only enhances public understanding but also fosters an informed engagement, driving support for policies that benefit environmental sustainability. As we harness these data-rich narratives, we contribute to a more informed global community, poised to make decisions that promote environmental health and resilience.

The shift towards more transparent and fact-based communication is crucial not just for individual organisations but for global environmental progress, aligning with the goals of the Paris Agreement and the pursuit of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. By leveraging new data-backed narratives, we can anticipate a future where environmental achievements are not only recognised but also further drive progress and innovation to ensure a sustainable future.


This article follows the CLIMACT webinar "Alternative Futures" project by UNUECO Sci-Comm Lab & "Creating memories of the Future" by HEC Lausanne and Monptellier Business School (associated project) presented by Luka Biernacki in February 2024. Watch the full video of the seminar to learn more.

Luka Biernacki is a Communications Strategist and the founder of UNUECO Sustainability Communications Consultancy as well as the UNUECO Sci-Comm Lab, a nonprofit focused on scientific, creative, and tech-based research on human communication, learning, and knowledge sharing. Luka specialises in transforming data into compelling narratives, helping organisations share their vision through digital and interactive formats. His work is focused on climate change and nature, sustainability, green technology, and science.

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