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Raising awareness of climate change in S America
Latin America & the Caribbean
More than 160 government officials, politicians and journalists attended the first stage of an FCO-funded climate change project in South America.
Designed to raise awareness of the issue ahead of the UN's COP15 summit this December, seminars were held in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela during April and May.
The aim of the initiative is to improve media coverage of climate change across the region, encourage government officials to make the issue a priority and to highlight the importance of COP15, which takes place in Copenhagen for two weeks from 7 December.
COP15 is the 15th Conference of the Parties under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
More than 15,000 environment ministers, officials, diplomats, campaigners, journalists and even heads of state will attend, representing the 192 countries that have signed the UN climate change convention.
Training
A phone-in for listeners to Colombian National Public Radio lasted for three hours and generated a lot of interest
Javier Farje, Project Manager
The journalism training undertaken as part of BBC WST's project in South America will focus on giving stories about the climate a news element, so they are no longer confined to the specialist press.
This will help to raise public awareness and increase the pressure on governments to take action.
In Peru, the seminar was attended by Minister for Environment Antonio Brack, while in Colombia and Bolivia the British Ambassador opened the event.
The seminars, which were well received, were followed by interviews with local media. "A phone-in for listeners to Colombian National Public Radio lasted for three hours and generated a lot of interest," says Project Manager Javier Farje, who conducted the training in Colombia, Peru and Venezuela. "As well as asking questions listeners were telling us about their experiences. Many people knew that things had changed but didn't realise that this was a result of climate change.
"For example, cases of malaria and dengue fever on Colombia's tropical islands doubled between the 1970s and 1990s. Local people knew about the increase but not that it was caused by changing rain patterns and increasing temperatures - a result of climate change."
Stage two
The second stage of the project, which begins at the end of May, will involve working with government ministries in the six countries. The seminars will focus on the issues surrounding climate change and highlight the importance of COP15.
"COP15 will be working towards a successor to the Kyoto protocol," says Javier Farje. "Something big has to come out of this or the world is in trouble."
The final phase of the Climate Change project, starting in late June, will concentrate on the media. Training will focus on how journalists can make climate change more newsworthy rather than treating it as a specialist subject only dealt with by campaigners.
To support this, modules on reporting climate change are being prepared for the online journalism training resource, iLearn.
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