Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA has just completed a two-day workshop for middle-level and experienced science reporters and editors on Climate Change reporting in Nairobi.
The 18 young and experienced journalists both men and women drawn from10 Counties and have been keen and interested in environment and climate change issues. The journalists were drawn from urban and rural-based print and electronic media and got in-depth training that covered the key areas of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in the context of the Paris Agreement, and climate finance. The overriding objective of the training was to build capacity of the science reporters to understand and report effectively on Climate Change.
This training is the 3rd in a series of capacity building endeavours from PACJA strategically designed to respond to the knowledge and information gap in society about climate change larger environmental and natural resources values and threats.
In recognizing the value and space that journalists occupy in society PACJA uses a comprehensive knowledge management approach in creating awareness on effective climate/environmental threat coping mechanism and wise use of natural resources
The journalists expressed their expectations at the beginning of the workshop, some of which included; advance knowledge on Climate change, skills to pitch climate change and environmental stories that would get airtime. They also expressed their desires to get content for their media outlets that create more awareness on climate change stories they could tackle and how they could make the communities understand why the climate was changing and how they could handle such situations and such change.
Mike O’maera, the Communications and Knowledge Management Officer at PACJA stated that Climate change is a development issue that should be given the necessary attention, with properly trained journalists who can articulate Climate Change issues competently. He pointed out that PACJA was working with all strata of society not only to bring awareness but also to enhance climate change legislation from local government levels all the way to regional and international circles.
While leading the journalists to reflect on Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) Jacob Olonde, of the University of Nairobi, urged the reporters to track the implementation of climate change projects in the country. He noted that “Most African media houses, science reporting is not a daily routine, unlike politics, business and sports, science reporting is generally placed on the fringes of mainstream journalism”.
Various deep-rooted factors tend to keep science at the bottom of news reporting. Olonde explained that Kenya submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution on 28th December 2016, when it deposited its instrument of ratification for the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Kenya’s NDC sets out an ambitious mitigation contribution of abating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30% by 2030.
Shakespear Awiri from Climate Finance Directorate at the National Treasury in Nairobi led the participants through the intrigues and the answers to the climate finance dilemma. He told the journalists that they should report on how the finances in the climate change sector are acquired and used in the country to tackle issues of climate change. He pointed out that the National treasury is the best source for such information. He also explained some of the environmental projects that are ongoing in the country and Africa and how they could followed up on.
The workshop came to an end on the second day with the journalists taking turns to pick up assignments for their various media outlets. Mike O’maera, thanked the participants for responding positively to the call to attend the workshop albeit on a short notice. He said the training work-shop was a learning experience for all. He reiterated the need for maintaining the network of journalists and scientists to ensure accurate and sustained media coverage of climate change issues.
The journalists arrived at some key recommendations, which included, Strengthening relationship and trust between journalists and scientists through joint training. Secondly; they recommended supporting activities of existing and emerging national, regional and country or local Media Networks to help in promoting effective and responsible climate change reporting. They also recommended future trainings be long enough, should last at least five days so that more practical sessions, including field excursions to mitigation and adaptation activity sites can be accommodated. Finally, they recommended facilitation of rural-based media outlets in terms of content to report more on climate change.