Talking loud and clear about climate change in Africa
Africa Talks Climate, a major research and communications initiative funded by the British Council, has been launched ahead of this December's crucial COP15 climate change summit. It will provide valuable insight into the public's understanding of climate change in Africa, highlighting their concerns and experiences.
International attention will be focusing on climate change this month when World Environment Day (WED) is commemorated on 5 June. Established by the UN General Assembly in 1972, it is designed to stimulate global awareness of the environment and enhance political attention and action.
Hosted by Mexico, the theme for WED 2009 is: Your Planet Needs You! UNite to Combat Climate Change. It hopes to draw attention to COP15.
The drive to help people understand issues such as climate change and to have the opportunity to speak and act is at the heart of our work
"Little existing research on climate change in Africa has focused on how to communicate this complex issue despite the fact that Africa's response to climate change will, to some extent, be determined by how well it is understood by citizens and policymakers. Using our network of researchers across Africa, the BBC World Service Trust (BBC WST) hopes to share its skills in understanding and communicating with audiences to support Africa's response to climate change," says Caroline Nursey, BBC WST Director.
"The drive to help people understand issues such as climate change and to have the opportunity to speak and act is at the heart of our work."
In a partnership project funded by the British Council, ten countries have been identified in which BBC WST researchers will be conducting research: DR Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
The major objective of Africa Talks Climate is to identify the entry points to engage, inform and empower Africans in local, national and international conversations about climate change. To achieve this, the initiative will collate opinions and then amplify the voices of people at all levels of society.
"Climate change is the defining issue of our age," said Peter Upton, Country Director for the British Council in Nigeria. "Climate in Africa is one of the most important issues that all people and governments will face. Africa will be one of the most affected regions but has done the least to contribute to the problem.
"We want to explore how African citizens are responding to the threat and impact of climate change. We believe that our work with the BBC World Service Trust, gathering attitudes, opinions and responses, will help to formulate advice for governments and society more widely."
Fieldwork is already underway, with the Nigerian study completed, and a second wave of fieldwork scheduled in September.
Across the year prominent African thinkers will publish a series of Opinion pieces to highlight the issues and concerns, and in September a BBC WST Policy Briefing will be published.
The combined findings will also feed into discussions taking place at COP15 to help influence a post-Kyoto agreement; developing nations are a critical part of this.
As well as informing British Council projects, the results will be published and communicated to the media in Africa. It is anticipated that the findings will be the first step in delivering mass media campaigns to share information about our changing environment more effectively and offer practical advice on how to adapt or mitigate.
"We are using research as an entry point to let people know more in country about the impact of climate change," said Peter Upton. "Our work across these ten countries on attitudes will combine with the work of others on the economic implications to provide advice and strategies on how to deal with the changing climate."