The role of the journalist in helping to engineer a secure climate future, certainly for the world’s most vulnerable, was brought sharply into focus today, with the launch of a two-day training workshop targeting media practitioners from Latin America and the Caribbean.
The workshop, being staged in Lima, Peru, is an initiative of the Government of Peru, which was made possible through the collaborative action of multiple stakeholders.
Those stakeholders include the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat, the Government of Spain, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Environment Programme, and EUROCLIMA, among others.
Earlier today, those partners urged journalists to recognise the essential nature of their role as communicators in the effort to derive the best possible international climate change agreement in 2015 — one which meaningfully addresses climate impacts and their implications.
Counted among those impacts are global warming, sea level rise and more extreme weather events, all of which have attendant implications that extend to an undermined agriculture and fisheries sector, impaired human health and overall reduced human development prospects.
Despite the dismal picture painted by the science of climate change, however, Governments have failed over the past two decades to reach a consensus on the best way forward — despite realising some progress markers.
Today, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, said the media “must spread the message of the risk of inaction and opportunity of action on climate change throughout Latin America, the Caribbean and the world”.
“This is where your role is of the utmost importance,” she told the audience via a video message. “As journalists, you take what happens in the process and broadcast it to the world. I’m not speaking solely of technical outcomes of the formal climate change negotiations, but the implications for communities — for people,” she added.
Figueres suggested that without the media performing this function, the success of the negotiations and the global effort to combat climate change hang in the balance.
“We only have 15 months in that formal negotiating process to achieve a new, universal climate change agreement that enables growth that is both climate-safe and rich with opportunity,” she said.
“In the first quarter of 2015, governments will lay out their nationally determined contributions to the Paris agreement, what they can contribute in terms of emission reductions and adaptation actions,” she added.
“And they will determine how to make this agreement more than just a five-year business plan to make it durable and flexible and strong enough to last for 20 to 30 years. It is your job to report what is happening within and outside this process. If governments do the right thing, praise them. If not, hold them accountable,” Figueres said further.
Ultimately, she said, if people are not made ware of the issues and their relevance to their daily lives “they cannot join in the growing chorus of support for action. They cannot be empowered to take action themselves.”
Other presenters, among them the Minister of Environment for Peru Dr. Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, who will serve as president of this year’s climate talks in December, echoed her sentiments.