The impactful role of storytelling in bioeconomy communication

Storytelling is a fundamental means of human communication that has been a part of human culture for millennia. From bedtime stories during our childhood to novels and science fiction, stories can be powerful, captivating, engaging and provocative.

Narrative cognition represents the default mode of human thought, providing structure to reality, serving as the underlying foundation for memory and a pathway for comprehension. Using narratives, anecdotes or storytelling to communicate complex scientific concepts to non-expert audiences can improve knowledge acquisition about science and create a sense of connection and inspiration. Eventually, storytelling can become a “transfer of experience,” of ideas, thoughts and emotions (Hasson et al., 2010).

Using storytelling to communicate a meaningful sense of distant scientific concepts, such as circular bioeconomy, and convince citizens about their social, economic, health and environmental benefits, can improve trust in scientific discovery, increase levels of acceptance and eventually transform people’s attitudes.

Storytelling in bioeconomy communication can:

  • Make Complex Concepts Accessible: The circular bioeconomy is a complex field that encompasses various aspects of biology, biotechnology, sustainability, and economic development. Storytelling simplifies these concepts, making them more understandable to a broader audience. Narratives can break down intricate scientific and economic ideas into relatable stories and real-life examples.
  • Create Emotional Connection: Stories have the power to evoke emotions. They can make people care about the bioeconomy by showing its positive impact on individuals, communities, and the environment. Personal narratives of individuals or companies that have thrived in the bioeconomy can create a connection that goes beyond facts and figures.
  • Highlight the Potential for Sustainability: Stories can emphasize the environmental benefits of the bioeconomy, such as efficient use of sustainable resources, reduced carbon emissions, sustainable agriculture, and circular economy practices. When people understand how the bioeconomy contributes to a more sustainable planet and future, they are more likely to support it.
  • Foster Public Engagement: Engaging narratives can enhance the experience, resonate with people’s experiences and values, encourage public participation and advocacy for policies that support the bioeconomy. People are more likely to get involved when they see how the bioeconomy aligns with their values and interests.
  • Educate and Raise Awareness: Storytelling can be a powerful educational tool. It can raise awareness about the bioeconomy’s potential and the challenges it addresses, such as food security, use of renewable resources, and waste reduction. Stories can reach a broad audience and be used in any form.
  • Overcome Resistance and Myths: The circular bioeconomy often faces resistance from those who are unaware or sceptical of its benefits or who hold misconceptions. Storytelling can address these concerns by presenting evidence, real-world examples, and expert opinions in a compelling and relatable way.
  • Inspire Innovation and Entrepreneurship: By sharing success stories of bio-based startups and innovative projects, storytelling can inspire others to pursue similar ventures. People may be more inclined to invest in or support bioeconomy initiatives when they see how others have succeeded and made a difference.

Last but not least, effective storytelling can improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and citizens. By translating scientific jargon into engaging stories, it ensures that everyone can participate in the conversation about the bioeconomy.