Cutting Through The COP

MSQ/Sustain round up their first week in Egypt for COP27, a week packed full of evaluating the areas of progress and concern within the sustainability scene. Following many a conference, Richard Armstrong talks policy and campaigns to create change during an increasingly worrying climate crisis.

Compared to Glasgow, it’s been a somewhat muted, somewhat depressing COP so far in Egypt. Fewer breakthroughs, more resignation. Keeping 1.5 alive is probably mission impossible now. 

But it’s not all doom and gloom! They may not grab the popular press headlines, but the NGO and Private Sector have shown up in force, and in thousands of ways are relentlessly forging a path to change. 

This is the climate community’s annual Glasto moment. Pavilions! Speakers! Announcements! Protests! A huge amount of effort, money and creativity goes into events like these. It’s noisy – not only in the halls, but all over social and in the media. How do you cut through the COP? How can you create stand-out amidst the crowd?

Ideas that accelerate change. 

Great ideas, delivered in a compelling way, can change hearts, minds, behaviours and policies faster.

Indeed, the nature and climate crises we find ourselves in don’t just require policy solutions, they need ideas to take root in the minds of businesses and consumers if there is to be any hope we can change current trajectories. 

MSQ/Sustain have been busy as usual, and our creative work can be seen in many of the COP pavilions and digital channels. 

CAMPAIGN IN FOCUS: Nature+Positive

You may have never heard of the concept ‘nature positive’, but it really matters – to your business and to your daily life. Not many people are aware of the scale of the crisis in Nature – since 1970, we have caused a 70% decline in the populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians. It is thought that one million animal and plant species – almost a quarter of the global total – are threatened with extinction.

Nature Positive is a global goal to immediately halt and reverse nature loss by 2030. 

Or to put it another way, every business, country, person and household needs to reduce the harm they do to Nature – and look to regenerate it so that our soil is healthier, our water and air is cleaner, our pollinators and fish stocks more abundant. 

Our brief was to ‘mainstream the idea of Nature+Positive at COP – make it as well-known, as visible and as urgent as Net Zero’. 

Introducing the ‘Nature Stripes’

In 2018, Professor Ed Hawkins created the ‘Climate Stripes’ – charting the annual increase in average global temperatures to raise the alarm on the climate crisis. 

In 2022, Professor Miles Richardson created a powerful and compelling visualisation of the decline in nature. From green to grey, it uses the Living Planet Index to chart the decimation of biodiversity.

For our ‘Nature+Positive’ campaign, we have taken Prof. Richardson’s stripes and, with deceptive simplicity, inverted them. Rather than a metric of decline, we want to use them as a symbol of optimism. 

We believe that change is possible – change is, after all, in our nature. Change towards a nature-positive future, where the planet, nature and biodiversity is considered as an integral part of our existence, our economy, our society, and is factored into all our decision-making processes. 


When the Prime Minister’s office calls, we tend to pick up the phone. 15 working days before COP, the UK Government decided their COP Presidency legacy would not be complete without the launch of a new initiative. 

In this case, it’s called FCLP – Forest & Climate Leaders’ Partnership. It’s quite technical, it’s quite important, and they left it quite late. 

Hence the call to MSQ… We need a name for it, a logo, key messages, a website, press releases, videos, PPT templates, a social campaign, banners and posters for the event and we need them all designed, printed and shipped to Egypt. All within 15 days please. 

Ripple dissolve to Monday morning this week… PM Rishi Sunak and US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry – along with 10 other Heads of State launched FCLP to the world’s media. All went seamlessly, and there were a number of relieved people back in Bow Street. An epic effort, and some brilliant work. 

Look out for Blog Part 2 from COP next week…