In conversation with

Lucy von Sturmer

Co-initiator at Creatives for Climate



There are lot of opinions on what we should do to protect our planet. We’re fed mixed messages, overwhelming solutions and often it’s hard to distinguish expert guidance from generally unhelpful public noise. It all makes taking action for the planet feel daunting. Climate expert Lucy von Sturmer works to cuts through it all and amplify the voices that need to be heard.

She’s one of 21 who have contributed to Ana Santi‘s book Three Things to Help Heal the Planet – a collection of essays on how to collectively tackle the climate and ecological crises when directed by experts – and is also Co-initiator at Creatives for Climate, arming creatives with the tools to mobilise climate solutions.

We speak to Lucy about her climate projects, the people who inspire her and about how creativity can spark real change.

Order Three Things to Help Heal the Planet here, out now.

Question and Answer

What books inspired you growing up?

  1. Where the Wild Things Are – I still love this book as a source of imagination.
  2. Arianna Huffington’s Thrive – perhaps a bit ‘old school’ now, but at the time it was really inspirational to me.
  3. Extinction Rebellion’s This is Not a Drill – it changed my life.

You’re a contributor in Ana Santi’s Three Things to Help Heal the Planet. Can you give us a preview of what your piece is about and what inspired you to write on it?

Language is a powerful tool. It can unite and it can divide. I spent a decade working for B Corps and NGOs, so had global, high-level exposure to various bodies of “impact” very early on in my career – and an early exposure to the critical role that communications plays.

The nuance of what you say and don’t say is highly politicised, with jargon as a weapon. But the opposite – language that is clear and clever, with meaning – has the tremendous power to mobilise people to create real change.

This is what my essay in Three Things to Help Heal the Planet focuses on: the role that creative communicators have in shaping our future on Earth.

“The nuance of what you say and don’t say is highly politicised, with jargon as a weapon. But the opposite – language that is clear and clever, with meaning – has the tremendous power to mobilise people to create real change.”

You’re at Creative for Climates – a global network that nurtures creatives who are passionate about driving change. In your opinion, what's the role of creativity in rallying individuals around a cause?

As the world’s best creative minds – in advertising, media, communications – we hold ourselves in high cultural regard; and our values are key to our contribution. However, we can’t personally believe one thing and act in another way during our working hours. The time is now to bring your personal – and yes, political – values into the workplace.

More creatives are waking up to their power, platform and influence as storytellers – and choosing to dedicate their talent to driving the change we need to see in the world. The challenge of how to make a shoe brand relevant to teenagers is no longer a cool job. A national airline – no longer a cool brand. Edelman, one of the world’s best-known comms agencies, counts Exxon Mobil as a client – no longer a cool agency.

The kind of thinking that got us into this mess is not going to get us out of it. We need more feminine values in leadership. We need more people of colour, we need to decolonize our minds, we need more Indigenous wisdom.

What type of comms have you found lands well with people – specifically around the topic of climate change?

Clear and specific messaging that doesn’t fall prey to sustainability jargon. If you’re in a boardroom thinking, ‘I have no idea what that word means’, then ask. Your ‘stupidity’ is your superpower – just be brave enough to say ‘I don’t know’ and own it!

What’s a project you’ve worked on that you’re super proud of and why?

In Three Things to Help Heal the Planet, I give two examples of what we have achieved at Creatives for Climate specifically. Fossil Free NL, an Amsterdam-based activist organisation, started a citizens’ petition to rid the city’s advertising spaces of greenwashing campaigns by fossil fuel companies. They asked us to support them with creative executions to make the message hit home. A year later, Amsterdam made history by becoming the first city to ban fossil fuel ads from its public spaces.

In New Zealand, the city council of Auckland was about to sign a long-term commitment to use glyphosate and other toxic chemicals as a weed killer in the streets, putting the ecosystem and children’s health at risk. We supported the local grassroots organisation For the Love of Bees, to bring the toxic injustice to light. We called out to the creative community for posters. The creative work hung all over the city, on billboards and in the hands of the activists on the streets. The intervention led to the immediate withdrawal of the plan, keeping the streets of Auckland toxin free.

Which change-making creatives have inspired you? Is there an example/s of their work that’s really struck you?

Sarah Smuts-Kennedy, change-maker, artist and activator (and my mum). Her project For The Love of Bees showed me how you can scale social change and her bravery to commit to a career as a contemporary artists inspires me.

There are so so so many others. The whole community at Creatives for Climate inspires me.

Lucy's Storylist


  1. Three Things to Help Heal the Planet by Ana Santi
  2. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  3. Thrive by Arianna Huffington
  4. This is Not a Drill by Extinction Rebellion

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