NbS Comics: A Creative Force for Environmental Education

29 February 2024

In a world where comics capture the imagination of millions of people, why not use the power of visual storytelling to raise awareness of critical environmental and social issues? With an estimated 500 million people around the globe regularly reading comics, the potential impact of this medium on disseminating knowledge is vast. In the USA, 37% of the population reads comics monthly, while in South Korea, a staggering 46% engage with comics on a weekly basis. This widespread consumption provides an unprecedented opportunity for scientists, educators, and activists to collaborate with comic artists, sharing vital stories on environmental and social practices. NbSComics-Nature to Save the World, a project launched by The Nature of Cities and NetworkNature, has successfully pioneered a unique approach to communicating Nature-based Solutions (NbS) through the art of comics. 

While the comic landscape traditionally revolves around superheroes, a growing movement is utilising this medium to address environmental and social justice. Initiatives like "NbSComics—Nature to Save the World," "Rewriting Extinction," and "Le Monde Sans Fin" are at the forefront. These comics offer a dynamic and engaging platform, combining visuals and narratives to vividly represent challenges such as pollution, deforestation, and social inequality. In 2023, ICLEI approached David Maddox and The Nature of Cities to utilise end-of-project funding from NetworkNature for educational products. This gave birth to NbSComics, a series of seven comics from Spain, Ireland, Italy, and Slovenia, each centred around a NbS. Crafted in English, these stories aim to reach a global audience and are housed on the website NBSComics.com, facilitating easy translation and accessibility.

Success and future plans

Since its launch, NbSComics has been read over 88,000 times, with strong social media engagement. This success has generated enthusiasm among academics and practitioners, fostering potential collaborations and a growing interest in visual storytelling workshops. Drawing on lessons learned, the team plans to repeat the call for new NbS comics, incorporating lessons learned. They are considering a new stream of commissions, bringing together comic artists and scientists for collaborative storytelling. The long-term vision is to invite open submissions of existing comics on NbS themes, further extending the impact of the project. As NbSComics enters its next phase, the team is looking to partner with educational scientists and organisations to extend the reach of these educational tools. The journey begun by David Maddox's report last year continues, promising a future where comics play a central role in educating and inspiring action for a sustainable and just world.

As NbSComics enters its next phase, stay tuned for the release of the next round of comics, which will debut soon!