During the 2nd Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) Media Summit on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction, participants from more than 25 countries agreed on a new media plan to better inform the public about climate change and disaster risk reduction.

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The summit, held in Krabi, Thailand last May, stressed the urgency and importance of climate change and its consequences, noting the crucial role public service media plays when it comes to effectively reporting about the issue and the challenges it poses.

The ABU Secretary-General, Dr Javad Mottaghi, said media can “build strong and knowledgeable communities that are able to turn climate change challenges into opportunities and survive the brutal forces of nature.”

The plan is a non-binding agreement that illustrates media professionals’ responsibilities when reporting on climate change and disaster risk reduction. The plan states the need for more frequent and accurate reports on climate change and encourages media outlets to assign environmental correspondents and specific departments.

The belief is that media can contribute towards the stimulation of a “culture of prevention”, by keeping its capability to reach out to communities and stakeholders and “communicate, educate, and inspire to collective action”.

Mottaghi stressed the importance of capacity building and quality of content when it comes to effectively communicating information to the public. “Broadcasters should be trained to deliver knowledge in a more attractive and acceptable manner,” he said. “Because sometimes the information is there, but if it’s not delivered appropriately the audience won’t listen.”

The plan also seeks to keep the conversation about climate change open and dynamic among public media professionals by choosing the appropriate means. For example, messaging and early warning should be implemented more frequently across communities to widen access to information and better prepare for possible emergencies.

The plan will be developed and presented at the 7th Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in New Delhi this November.

Climate change will be also a key aspect of our conference in Montréal this September, where we will be discussing the role of public service media in reporting and talking about climate change.