Local media called to action on climate change

GIS: The Media Should be More Committed to Educating the Public on Environmental Matters, says GIS Director.

Not much is being reported on the silent catastrophe of 4.2 million people dying prematurely each year from ambient pollution, mostly related to the use of fossil fuels, the cause of climate change—but it is real. Then there are the impacts of severe hurricanes this year alone, from Miami and Puerto Rico, to Cuba and Dominica, as well as record floods across Bangladesh, India and Nepal, and severe droughts in parts of Africa.

These have all taken place mere weeks before the 23rd session of the Conference of Parties (COP 23) to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), and the Saint Lucian media is being called on to sensitize the populace about the all-important issue.

COP 23 will be held in Bonn, Germany, from Nov. 6 to 17, and is a follow-up to the Paris Agreement aimed at mitigating carbon emissions, to which Saint Lucia is a signatory.

On Thursday, Oct. 18, Clement Wulf-Soulage, the Director of Information Services at the Government Information Service (GIS), convened a meeting with media stakeholders to discuss ways in which the private media and the GIS could effectively highlight the event, and give more prominence to issues relating to climate change and global warming.

“Climate change is an issue of absolute importance to the region,” Mr. Soulage said. “Needless to say that Saint Lucia has been spared the brunt of three disastrous hurricanes so far. As media practitioners, we are a very important means of communicating environmental concerns to the general public. We should be concerned with the environment a lot more. [There should be] more public announcements and even discussion programs on NTN, GIS and in the private media.”

Mr. Soulage added that while the Saint Lucian contingent will be making a case for small island states at COP 23, the media should join the sensitization process by placing the issues at the forefront. He stressed that the media should hold a more committal position in educating the public on ecological and environmental matters, even beyond climate change.

Wednesday’s meeting sought to strategize ways in which the local media could report on the island’s response to the escalating crisis of climate change.

During COP 23, the GIS will facilitate the dissemination of information to the wider media. Ahead of this, GIS will produce a number of PSAs and short features that the private broadcast media have agreed to air on their various stations. A series of newspaper articles prepared by the GIS will also appear in The Voice.

Saint Lucia’s delegation to COP 23 will be headed by Hon. Dr. Gale T. C. Rigobert, Minister for Education, innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development.

2 Comments

  1. Calvin
    October 23, 2017 at 8:40 am Reply

    It is very interesting that the media is being asked to educate the populace about climate change.

    The media is not a mouth-piece of government doing part of its job for them. To be fair to the media:

    — That is not media’s job. The media has neither the training nor the mandate. Unless the present government is degrading into a dictatorship. The role of the media is to cover current events and report on emerging issues.
    — Consistent nation-wide messaging and both actions and prioritization and action on measures to address climate change both legislatively and also collaboratively plainly rest with government.
    — Should the government lack within the public service the expertise to address the issue, there are several options, only two of which are to get involved in existing multi-country climate change forums to learn from others, and/or trimming some fat and bringing in the qualified talent needed to advance the climate change file.
    — It is entirely in appropriate for a government to shirk their responsibility and ask reporters and research assistants to become experts on climate change and possibly convey both mixed messages and possible lack of access and time to access a firm fact base. That is the job of any government.

    The government, as most governments worldwide have done, needs to clearly articulate a Climate Change Agenda, with clearly articulated priorities, timelines, and stated measures that will be used to assess progress — In other words, determination and accountability.

    Island-wide consultations on such an Agenda would be a good start, using a combination of social media and actual community meetings attended by a facilitator/rapporteur a member of government, the the locally elected representative.

    It is inappropriate for the government to ask media to do the government’s job for them.

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