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Media urged to play key role in climate change awareness

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BY VANESSA GONYE

PLAYERS in the media industry have been urged to take advantage of their profession to disseminate information and raise awareness on climate change issues.

Speaking at this year’s National Journalism and Media Awards (Njama) held in the capital recently, Unesco regional adviser for communication and information, Al-Amin Yusuph said there is need to embark on massive climate change education programmes through the media focusing on encouraging each and every citizen to take small actions in addressing climate
change.

The Njama are organised by the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) as a way of improving and developing professionalism among its members.

“Most of the climate change and agenda 2030 communication is in professional languages, suited for the think-tanks, it is the language which is not targeted to the majority non-elite citizens to read, listen or even understand. The challenge is further compounded, by the fact that many global citizens are not functionally literate,” he said.

“The media, has to customise our climate change communication to languages and contextual messages which are familiar to an average citizen. That is why Unesco developed the Media4SDGs programme, a programme which seeks to address all these challenges.”

Part of the media’s role is disseminating accurate and non-sensitive disaster risk, hazard and disaster information; including small-scale disasters, in a simple, transparent, easy-to-understand and accessible manner, and in close co-operation with national authorities.

“The Sendai framework calls on the media to support appropriate early warning systems and life-saving protective measures; and stimulate a culture of prevention and strong community involvement in sustained public education campaigns, and public consultations at all levels of society, in accordance with national practices,” Yusuph said.

“Here in our region, we have the Sadc climate change strategy and action plan, which also talks of early warning systems and emergency response mechanisms. The media obviously has a great role to play in supporting this regional strategy.”

He bemoaned the fact that journalism is becoming a dangerous profession with climate change action making the profession even more dangerous.

Action on slaying of members of the Fourth Estate has not been impressive as only 11% of the cases of enquiry in the killings of journalists in Africa in the last 10 years have been resolved.

Unesco, within the framework of the UN plan of action, and the safety of journalists, is advocating for a multi-stakeholder approach to promoting journalists’ safety.

The awards were running under the theme Media, Communities and Climate Change.

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