Raising awareness of environmental issues
Latin America & the Caribbean
We worked in partnership with media professionals, local authorities, and national and international NGOs in the Eastern Caribbean to build public awareness of climate change and the need for national and regional environmental policies.
Start date: December 2007
Finish date: March 2008
Media types: TV/Radio/Print
Countries: Eastern Caribbean
Many media workers have limited formal training and there are few opportunities for continued training in responsible reporting and technical issues related to the environment.
We delivered face-to-face and online journalism training to improve the media's ability to cover environmental issues in Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St Kitts, St Lucia, St Vincent, Trinidad & Tobago.
The objectives of the training were to:
- Improve key media professionals' understanding of the main environmental challenges facing the Eastern Caribbean region
- Give them the skills to raise audience awareness of these challenges
- Develop lasting professional skills in: impartial and balanced reporting, accurate sourcing, verification of facts and representation of all voices in the community
Journalists were also encouraged to build links with other relevant organisations, including NGOs, community groups and local authorities. In the long term, this will help to improve their access to information and ensure their reporting is balanced and representative.
- The Caribbean contains 10% of the world's coral
- Warmer seas and a record hurricane season in 2005 devastated more than half the region's reefs
- Coral reefs support an estimated 25% of all marine life
- Caribbean reefs generate $4bn in revenue a year from fisheries, tourism and shoreline protection
- Coral loss could cost the local economy $420m a year
"Many media workers have limited formal training and there are few opportunities for continued training in responsible reporting, technical issues related to health, environment, child rights and central development issues."
There is also little connection between the media and other civil society groups.
We identified 15 journalists from English-speaking countries across the region to participate in the initiative. They were selected for their potential to become media leaders and share their learning on return to their home countries.
Face-to-face journalism training
A five-day workshop was organized in the capital of Barbados, Bridgetown. This covered skills such as:
- Key environmental concepts and topics
- Structuring a complex story
- Presentation of issues to different audiences
- Media ethics; and
- Investigative reporting
Representatives from government, NGOs and international agencies involved in environmental issues, such as the UNEP, were invited to specific sessions to promote dialogue and debate.
Online journalism training
Six complementary online distance-learning modules were developed. They covered environmental issues specific to the Eastern Caribbean region and enabled journalists to continue learning through our online journalism training system, iLearn
Environmental issues of direct relevance to the Eastern Caribbean include:
- Protecting biodiversity - e.g. coral reef damage and marine pollution
- Ensuring sustainable use of natural resources - e.g. fish stocks
- Climate change - some 70% of the region's population lives in low-lying coastal communities that are vulnerable to rising sea levels and changing hurricane and storm patterns
- Dwindling supplies of freshwater for drinking and agriculture - Antigua, Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis are officially listed as 'water scarce'. Tourist resorts use up to 10 times more water than similar residential areas