While the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) currently taking place in the Parisian village of Le Bourget represents an important global event for the media to report on climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, it should be treated as only a small part of a larger journalistic response aimed at raising public awareness of how climate change is adversely affecting societies and communities in all countries.
This was the key message that Fackson Banda, a programme specialist in the Secretariat of the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), delivered to a group of 15 Russian journalists and representatives of a Franco-Russian think tank Destination Est.
“Climate change journalism is investigative journalism, but with an explicit focus on climate change mitigation and adaptation,” Banda told the journalists who are in France at the invitation of Destination Est to report on the COP21 proceedings which got underway on 30 November and are widely expected to culminate in a form of agreement that will limit greenhouse gas emissions to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Banda highlighted UNESCO’s support to media over the years, including its hosting of the International Conference on Broadcast Media and Climate Change in 2009 as well as its publication of Climate Change in Africa: A Guidebook for Journalists in 2013.
“Another important milestone in UNESCO’s effort to help media report on climate change from a multidisciplinary perspective,” explained Banda, “can be seen in how UNESCO, through the IPDC, has supported hundreds of projects in developing countries where news media need greater capacity to authoritatively and comprehensively report on this multifaceted global phenomenon.”
Cooperation with Destination Est represents one of several strategic partnerships in which UNESCO is attempting to support a broad-based journalistic response to COP21 outcomes. Other forms of cooperation have included UNESCO’s support for the French Agency for Media Cooperation (CFI), which has brought a cohort of African and Asian journalists to report on COP21, following training sessions based on UNESCO’s guidebook above.
Some of these journalists, along with others from Internews, are expected to participate in a media breakfast on 7 December at the UNESCO Headquarters as part of a joint event with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Journalists will be introduced to the key findings of the latest IPCC Assessment Report (AR5), among other things.