Fiji: A call for media to boost capacity building in climate reporting
Regional journalists have been reminded that they play vital roles in keeping the public well informed with accurate, timely and appropriate weather information as the Pacific island countries cross the threshold of what is frequently known as the cyclone season.
That was the message shared by the High Commissioner of the Government of India to Fiji. Mr. Vishwas Sapkal while speaking at the opening of the weeklong workshop and media training in Nadi, Fiji.
The workshop is funded by the Government of India in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji, under the India – UN Development Partnership Fund, and facilitated by the Pacific Environment Journalists Network (PEJN).
The week-long workshop is aimed at improving journalists’ skills and knowledge in understanding climate and how this can be enhanced to ensure that the public is well-informed and are able to make sound decisions to improve their resilience and ward off any negative impacts from impending disasters.
Mr. Sapkal told the participants that they need to work together with their National Meteorological Office to ensure that the public is kept well informed.
“Climate and weather are sometimes referred to as the “same thing”, however, there is a primary difference which is that climate is the culmination of long term weather patterns and is usually measured in 10, 20, 30, or 50- year time spans. For climatologists and the general public to understand climate better, one must have access to uninterrupted weather data over many years in order to observe the subtle changes in weather and the consequences these have in the lives of the general public.”
He stressed that regardless of the size of our economy or population, we are all vulnerable to climate change.
UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Project Manager for Disaster Resilience for Pacific SIDS (RESPAC), Noud Leenders said UNDP is excited to be working with the PEJN and Regional Journalists in climate change reporting. “The media plays an important role in ensuring that we get the right information out to the people.”
The regional workshop coincides with the COP24 Climate Conference, currently underway in Katowice, Poland.
More than 20 journalists, majority of them women including five Journalism students from the University of the South Pacific in Suva, are attending the workshop.
Climate Early Warning Systems (CLEWS) in the Pacific Island Countries Project is an initiative funded by the UN-India Development Partnership Fund and implemented by the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji with support from the Government of India.
The Partnership Fund was launched by the Minister of State for External Affairs in India H.E Mr. M.J Akbar in June 2017 in New York for supporting South-South Cooperation.
Aimed at supporting existing and new initiatives to enhance Pacific Island Countries’ adaptive capacities for disaster preparedness and recovery, particularly focusing on national meteorology and hydrology services, and to be implemented by UNDP in the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, and Republic of the Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, and Tonga.
The overall (I-CLEWS) project will contribute to making the seven identified Pacific Countries more resilient to the impacts of climate change and disasters, build on UNDP’s ongoing work in these countries, while at the same time strengthening the South-South Cooperation among the countries and between India and the Pacific.
Sapkal stated, he is thrilled that the project is targeting capacity building for media representatives. “It is you that the public relies on the most and therefore your capacity and knowledge must be enhanced at all times.”
More presentations, discussions and exercise has already been made and more to come during the week, to equipped journalists to become an important and reliable tool in climate reporting.
The nine Pacific countries are Fiji, Nauru, Tokelau, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Solomon Is, PNG, Tonga and Samoa.