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Journalists - improving their capacity to support wetland conservation (17/02/06)
Good morning everyone:
I want to share with you an email from Absalom Shigwedha, a journalist from Namibia, on the importance of working with journalists to ensure that they are well informed about wetland issues so they can more effectively support wetland conservation. Here is his email along with some other materials that looks at a few examples of what is going on in this area in Africa and Asia.
1. Here is Absaloms email :
My name is Absalom Shigwedha, a Namibian Environment & Conservation journalist. I have extensively covered Ramsar issues for the paper I working for, The Namibian. Thanks for continuously updating us on Ramsar activities. Namibia has declared the Walvis Bay Lagoon, Orange River Mouth, Sandwich Harbour and Etosha Pan.
I just wanted to suggest something. I think environment journalists will be able to properly report on the importance of wetlands preservation, if workshops on how to cover these issues are organised for them. Researchers here in Southern Africa have established that many journalists do not report on environment and development issues because they do not understand them fully.
I think the Ramsar Secretariat can pass on this proposal to Ramsar Authorities of countries that are Parties to the Ramsar Convention.
Thanks, Absalom Shigwedha, Environment & Conservation Journalist, Windhoek, Namibia, Southern Africa.
2. These kinds of activities do go on in some of our Parties although it is not possible to say at what level of intensity it occurs. The National Reports submitted for COP9 by the Ramsar Contracting Parties did provide answers to a question on whether Parties collaborated with the media to inform decision-makers and broader society about the values and benefits of wetlands. From 110 reports that were submitted in time for analysis, 84% responded positively with many noting that this takes place on a regular basis and that NGOs play an important role. Four countries (Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica and Senegal) particularly noted they had held workshops for journalists to ensure that they were well informed about wetland values and threats.
WWD is a time when Parties sometimes engage directly with the media in this way. Heres one example that I recall from last year where journalists were invited to a seminar to discuss wetland issues (http://www.ramsar.org/wwd/5/wwd2005_rpt_egypt1.htm)
3. Taking this to a different level, at the end of last month I received an email from the World Environmental Journalists elist about a regional workshop on water policy issues to be held this month in Thailand for journalists. This workshop followed 12 previous workshops attended by over 400 journalists throughout Asia, all of them funded by the ADB (Asian Development Bank).
Look here at ADBs Web Site to read more about their support for journalists http://www.adb.org/Documents/Periodicals/Water/2006/issue20-feb06.asp. They begin with the sentence Good journalism not only provides facts, it also inspires change which probably sums up succinctly why we need to make sure journalists are well informed about wetland issues. Have a look here about the upcoming workshop http://www.adb.org/Documents/Events/2006/WAP/regional-workshop.asp. It includes background information, the areas they intend to cover with the workshop, and you can also read more about their whole programme of workshops.
4. Some time last year I noted the launching of a Web site for African journalists. The Africa Water Journalists Network, a community of more than 1,000 journalists concerned with water, is behind this and it offers to journalists: a website and blog, a place to share information and write more personally about water issues and professional water-related experiences, an opportunity to ask questions to colleagues in other countries, or just express feelings about being a journalist in Africa. While some sections of the Web Site are clearly not being updated, the blog section records considerable activity. Have a look here http://www.africawaterjournalists.org/about.asp.
So there it is, a suggestion from a list member about what should be done to ensure that journalists are well informed about wetland issues and their relationship with water issues, and few examples from the water and wetland world of what is being done.
Best weekend wishes, Sandra Hails, Ramsar Secretariat
Sandra Hails, CEPA Programme Officer
Ramsar Convention Secretariat
Rue Mauverney 28, CH-1196 Gland, Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 999 0176; Fax: +41 22 999 0169
Web Site: http://ramsar.org
CEPA mini-Web site: http://ramsar.org/outreach_index.htm