Dhulikhel and Kathmandu: Twenty-four media representatives from the South Asian countries of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka called for better understanding on the science behind climate change and increased attention on adaptation to climate change. The journalists had an opportunity to network and enhance their knowledge of regional climate change issues at the three-day South Asia Media Workshop on Adaptation to Climate Change, held in Dhulikhel and Kathmandu from 18 to 20 May.
The workshop, organized by the Regional Climate Change Adaptation Knowledge Platform for Asia (AKP), the Asia Pacific Adaptation Network (APAN), and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) was designed to facilitate awareness raising on the increasing impacts of climate change, related vulnerabilities, and strategies for adaptation by mountain and downstream populations through strengthening food, water, energy, environmental, and biodiversity security. The workshop also served to bring into focus the upcoming issues and agenda for UNFCCC and RIO+20 conferences and others.
At the opening of the workshop, Dr Young-Woo Park, Regional Director and Representative for Asia and the Pacific, United Nations Environment Programme Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, stressed, “The basis of the three-day media workshop is harnessing the power of media and their influence on public opinion in this region for raising awareness on climate change and the need to adapt to it.”
Resource persons from ICIMOD, AKP, APAN, the Third Pole Project, the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), the Center for Environmental and Geographic Information Services (CEGIS)-Bangladesh, and the Southeast Asia START (Global Change System for Analysis, Research and Training) Regional Center (SEA START)-Thailand familiarised the participants with the impacts of climate change on the water and agriculture sectors in mountain and coastal regions and the role of the media in sharing knowledge on climate change impacts and possible adaptation measures.
During a day-long field visit to Panchkhal and Bhotekoshi, the participants visited community forests and questioned community members about issues related to reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) and water scarcity. They also observed the extent of structural damage in the Upper Bhotekoshi area, where major glacial lake outburst flood incidents were noticed in 1964 and 1981.
“This workshop serves as an effective means of providing media persons with the necessary information on the ongoing changes in different ecosystems, how such changes affect the resident population and how such effects translate to the global scale. Journalists have a key role as a link between knowledge institutions and the public. They help to transform science-based information into practical actionable knowledge. Therefore, media persons have an important role in spreading the ‘right message’ to the people”, said Dr Andreas Schild, Director General of ICIMOD, in his welcome remarks.
Ms Roopa Rakshit of the Adaption Knowledge Platform, one of the organising partners, noted that the workshop would serve as a stepping stone towards a sustainable network of ‘climate change adaptation aware’ media persons from South Asia advocating for climate change adaptation and the mountain agenda. She also emphasised better linkages and coordination between the media community and adaptation practitioners. She suggested and urged fostering an e-community of practice for the media with a focus on climate change adaptation, using one of the many existing social media tools.
Mr Joydeep Gupta of the Third Pole Project, the facilitator of the workshop, said, “There has not been enough focus on the effects of climate change on water supply and agriculture, though this is what affects most people. By providing scientific information and credible evidence to journalists, this workshop is equipping them to produce more effective reports in this critical area.”
Ms Meena Menon, a participant representing The Hindu, Mumbai, said, “The workshop has addressed fundamental concerns of journalists covering climate change with detailed presentations based on studies on climate change adaptation, impacts on glaciers and field visits to get a first hand feel of communities engaged in forestry, and also the impacts of glacial lake outburst floods. The workshop has contributed to a better understanding of the basic issues that people are confronted with due to changing climate patterns. It has also given us access to numerous resource persons, research and networking opportunities for our continuing work.”