On the global stage

Jon Sutton reports from a BPS-organised symposium at the European Congress of Psychology in Moscow.

‘Let’s elevate the status of psychology, let’s generate some knowledge, let’s think big.’ So said Sarb Bajwa, Chief Executive of the British Psychological Society, in this BPS-organised session on ‘psychology taking a global remit’. 

The topic bringing together representatives from membership organisations across the world was climate change: picked for its societal importance, timeliness and recent shift in the debate from natural science and economics towards the role of human factors and psychology. ‘We’ve picked the low-hanging fruit’, said Bajwa: ‘We need to understand why there’s a gap between expert opinion and public response, and place psychology at the heart of policy making to help bridge that gap between fact and fiction.’

Bajwa recommended guidelines and resources produced by the American Psychological Association, represented here by Amanda Clinton. ‘US populations do get climate change,’ she said, ‘but whether or not we’re voting in accordance with that is another matter…’ Perhaps a focus on the next generation is key, and Frances Mirabelli from the Australian Psychological Society showcased their ‘Psychology Week’ project with its focus on young people and resources for parents. ‘We are all responsible for taking action.’ This can mean ‘beginning small’, according to Francisco Miranda Rodrigues (Portugal), and Koen Lowet (Flemish Association of Clinical Psychologists) emphasised the need to gradually build a ‘coalition of the willing’. 

As well as addressing an issue of clear importance for the future of our planet, Bajwa emphasised that a global campaign could champion the values and skills which are central to our profession. ‘We should focus on the hierarchy of values that determine individual actions and responses. We need to do more to produce the evidence, to show thought leadership. That’s how we will elevate the status of psychology.’


Mental health and our changing climate – impacts, implications and guidance


Psychology and global climate change: addressing a multifaceted phenomena and set of challenges


‘Speaking of psychology’ podcast


Ordem dos Psicologos and the Portugese National Commission for UNESCO: Behaviours for Sustainable Development


BPS behaviour change briefing on energy consumption


Climate change in The Psychologist archive


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