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African journalists tasked on climate change

The Guardian

The challenges posed by climate change to ordinary livelihoods in Africa are too acute to deserve the patchy coverage the African media give the phenomenon, some 40 African journalists concluded at the seventh African Development Forum (ADF) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The pre-ADF media training workshop, held at the conference Hall of the United Nations headquarters, ended at the weekend with experts’ submitting in one voice that there was an urgent need for more awareness on the dangers of climate change.

However, The Guardian discovered that opinion is  divided on the level of financial commitment towards alleviating dangers posed to the environment by climate change, especially on the African continent.

While Switzerland-based climate change negotiator, Nigerian Osita Anaedu, stated that the developed countries might not have been doing enough in terms of financial commitment to save the continent, a climate change programme manager with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, Senegalese Mamadou Mousa Diakhite, said there was evidence of direct intervention by some countries of the north, especially those within the fold of the European Union.

Under the theme “Getting it right: Reporting climate change for sustainable development in Africa”, the training workshop was organised by the Africa Climate Policy Centre (ACPC), in collaboration with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), in the run-up to the Seventh African Development Forum (ADF) which opened in Addis Ababa.

The theme of ADF VII is “Acting on climate change for sustainable development in Africa.”  The workshop was aimed at improving participants’ understanding of the issues around climate change and how it impacts Africa, so that they can be better prepared to raise awareness of the international negotiations and how local communities and individuals are affected by the impact of climate change in Africa.

Recognising the stiff competition climate change stories face for news space with other newspaper sections and radio/TV programmes, participants are being challenged to “think outside the box” to write more compelling stories on what some described as an unfolding disaster for Africa.

At the opening session, Director of the ECA’s Division for Food Security and Sustainable Development, Mr. Josue Dione, stressed the need for African journalists to adapt to the vast and increasing glossary of climate change terms and acronyms, conceding that due to the highly scientific nature of climate change science, “some technical issues, such as climate change adaptation, mitigation, finance and technology, require specialized training in order to enhance reportorial skills.”

For example, “What do all this mean for sustainable development and people’s livelihood? What about the Bali Platform and the Copenhagen Accord? What is the significance of the two degrees touted in Copenhagen? How close is Copenhagen Accord to the African common position and what are these common positions”, he asked.

During the experiences-sharing sessions that followed each presentation, it became evident that climate change specialists and related institutions also need to sharpen their communication approaches and the way they deal with reporters and the media as a whole for maximum impact.

 Speaking with The Guardian, Director, Climate Change Insight, Mike Harrison a Briton, said that while it was generally accepted that developed countries contribute more to climate change through emissions into the atmospheres, they, however, have domestic challenges to cope with and this must have affected the level of financial commitment available to assist developing countries in their quest to combat consequences of climate change.

“Most of these countries also have to compete with each other to maintain their global economic challenges as well as standard”, he said.

But to Anaedu, those who contribute chiefly to the problem should readily bear the burden of the after-effects. “Most developing countries are not in the financial positions to offer serious help in terms of financial requirements to combat climate change. Most cannot even meet immediate challenges. So, it’s not so fair to expect them to give what they do not possess, especially to a problem they did not cause”, he said.

Diakhite, however, pointed to some specific areas where the EU has intervened, stating that such intervention was based on criteria of least developing countries, Island countries and on vulnerability index. He also disclosed that the EU was currently involved directly in 10 countries on the continent.

El contenido de las noticias que se presentan en esta sección es responsabilidad directa de las agencias emisoras de noticias y no necesariamente reflejan la posición del Gobierno de México en este u otros temas relacionados.


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