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Climate change: new challenges for journalism educators

22 July 2019

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On 10 July 2019, experts from different countries discussed how journalists should be trained to cover climate change issues.
© UNESCO

How can journalists be properly trained to inform the general audience about the causes and consequences of climate change? This is the question that experts tried to answer on Wednesday 10 July during a panel discussion on climate change: “What the scientists want journalism educators to know?”

This panel, sponsored by UNESCO through its International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), was held on the second day of the 5th World Journalism Education Congress (WJEC), which took place at the University of Paris-Dauphine from 9 to 11 July and brought together 600 participants, from more than 70 countries.

UNESCO was a privileged partner of the event. UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay was invited to give a keynote address at the Opening Ceremony of this Congress.

In the face of climate change, journalists must play a major and enlightening role and be the link between scientists and citizens. WJEC is the only global event devoted exclusively to the teaching of journalism. It gathers professionals, researchers and trainers in journalism from all over the world to exchange on best practices, innovations and challenges for journalism and journalism education.

The Head of Environment and Energy section of Conversation France, Jennifer Gallé, chaired the climate change panel discussion. The session was further composed of four panelists: the CEO of Media Challenge Initiative, Mpindi Abaas (Uganda); the South Asia Content Coordinator of Internews’ Earth Journalism Network, Ramesh Bhushal (Nepal); Addis Ababa University philosophy professor, Workineh Kelbessa (Ethiopia) and, climate change expert, journalist and IPJ Dauphine lecturer, Anne Tézenas du Montcel (France).

“The main issue in terms of education is, in fact, to be interdisciplinary,” said Ms Tézenas du Montcel. “The study of climate change is necessarily interdisciplinary. It is not only a philosophical problem, climate change is fundamentally an ethical issue. It is also a political, scientific, technological and economic problem,” added Mr Kelbessa.

“Journalists need to understand climate science and climate ethics. They should understand and educate citizens about the ethical dimension of climate change policy formulation,” concluded Mr Kelbessa.

Following the session, the panelists organized a working group aiming at developing a 10-hour course on this topic. This panel and last initiative took place in a spirit of North-South-South cooperation, involving experts from LDCs who provided their insights on climate change from their country perspectives.