At the intersection of mind and climate change: integrating inner dimensions of climate change into policymaking and practice

Christine Wamsler, Jamie Bristow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dominant policy approaches have failed to generate action at anywhere near the rate, scale or depth needed to avert climate change and environmental disaster. In particular, they fail to address the need for a fundamental cultural transformation, which involves a collective shift in mindsets (values, beliefs, worldviews and associated inner human capacities). Whilst scholars and practitioners are increasingly calling for more integrative approaches, knowledge on how the link between our mind and the climate crisis can be best addressed in policy responses is still scarce. Our study addresses this gap. Based on a survey and in-depth interviews with high-level policymakers worldwide, we explore how they perceive the intersection of mind and climate change, how it is reflected in current policymaking and how it could be better considered to support transformation. Our findings show, on the one hand, that the mind is perceived as a victim of increasing climate impacts. On the other hand, it is considered a key driver of the crisis, and a barrier to action, to the detriment of both personal and planetary wellbeing. The resultant vicious cycle of mind and climate change is, however, not reflected in mainstream policymaking, which fails to generate more sustainable pathways. At the same time, there are important lessons from other fields (e.g. education, health, the workplace, policy mainstreaming) that provide insights into how to integrate aspects of mind into climate policies. Our results show that systematic integration into policymaking is a key for improving both climate resilience and climate responsiveness across individual, collective, organisational and system levels and indicate the inner human potential and capacities that support related change. We conclude with some policy recommendations and further research that is needed to move from a vicious to a virtuous cycle of mind and climate change that supports personal and planetary wellbeing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Climate Research

Free keywords

  • Climate anxiety
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Climate change mitigation
  • Inner transformation
  • Inner transition
  • Paradigms
  • Policy integration
  • Relationality
  • Sustainability


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