Media role vital in climate change
By MATTHEW VARI
THAT was the message given to journalist present at the opening day of a media workshop on Climate Change, hosted by the Office of Climate Change and Development (OCCD) in partnership with the United Nations Development Program in Port Moresby, this week.
The two-day workshop was held to give journalist from the various media organisations to understand, define, and know what the OCCD is doing to address and alleviate the situation with its partners.
In his opening address, the Minister for Forests and Climate Change, Patrick Pruaitch, urged the media to be vigilant in their approach to reporting on climate change and issues associated with it.
“Over these two days, I believe our scientists and technical advisers will hopefully not frighten you with the technical and complicated scientific explanations, or shall I say jargons, on the effects, but rather educate and carefully provide guidance on how to understand the implications of climate change on our people and how to deal with them in the most effective manner,” Mr Pruaitch said.
He encouraged all present to take ownership and responsibility in spreading the word as the country is the first in the world with climate change refugees, namely the Carteret islanders of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
“The media is a very powerful agent of change and I believe this workshop will foster the relationship with all stakeholders because imparting information in simple language and laymen terms is more than beneficial for the understanding of our people,” he said.
Views that were shared by the Executive Director of OCCD, Varigini Badira, who emphasised the important role the media plays to inform and educate the people about what has happened and continues to happen around their environment.
“Journalists everywhere including PNG, grapple with the science of climate change and how to communicate its impacts to their audiences,” he said.
“In developing countries, our journalists lack resources or knowledge on how to access solid data and information on climate change- writing or broadcasting such stories in a clear or straightforward way is often a challenge, which results in knowledge gaps that are left out on this vitally important issue.”
PNG Media Council representative Alexander Rheeney on behalf of the media fraternity, thanked the director and the minister for the opportunity given for a workshop conducted solely for the media.
“We haven’t had this kind of arrangement before and I thank the OCCD for reaching out to the media as partners to address the issue of climate change,” he said.
“As a journalist I would like to say that climate change is the story of the 21st century.We do not have to look or go far to actually see the effects of climate change in the country.”
He added that the workshop was a very good example of collaboration between the media, stakeholders and state agencies, and encouraged more of such partnership to take place in the future.
Case studies were presented on specific projects from OCCD presenters who provided hands-on opportunities for journalist to develop relevant stories.
Participants were from media organisations of photo journalists, video documentary, radio and print, joined by students from the UPNG’s journalism strand.