African journalists hone skills in readiness for climate summit

A more positive attitude towards mitigating and preventing climate change will come about with journalists keeping the people sufficiently informed, so that they can bring pressure on their leaders.

This was the message of Jean-Pierre Poncet, Second Counsellor of the French Permanent Delegation to UNESCO, in his remarks to 18 African journalists attending a training workshop on climate change which started on 4 July at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.

Poncet noted that state actors were important in the negotiation process leading up to the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) in December this year at the Paris suburb of Le Bourget. But he stressed that they could only be held accountable to their commitments by a cadre of journalists that was knowledgeable about both development and climate issues, and how they intersected in national policy frameworks.

The training workshop, a result of a strategic partnership between UNESCO and the French Agency for Media Cooperation (CFI), is aimed at equipping African journalists with the knowledge and skills required for them to authoritatively report on the International Scientific Conference which starts tomorrow in Paris. This is one of several preparatory meetings leading to the COP21 event itself.

The journalists came from Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda and Tanzania, and represent an emerging cadre of African journalists increasingly seeking innovative ways of reporting the complexities of climate change.

While the majority of them work for radio and print, others are bloggers who are exploiting social media for greater journalistic outreach on climate change awareness.

A key resource for the training workshop is UNESCO’s publication titled ‘Climate Change in Africa: A Guidebook for Journalists’.

The workshop is scheduled to end on 11 July.